Dance team to compete for Disney opportunity
BY STACY TEMPLE • STEMPLE@THENEWSSTAR.COM • DECEMBER 11, 2010
More than a dozen local students will vie for a chance at $5,000 and the opportunity to “step” for Disney
Members of Monroe’s Our Kids (O.K.) Program recently won first place in the Strength, Speed, Agility Program regional stepping competition Nov. 13 in Tallulah. The team will compete in a tri-state competition Feb. 26 in Dallass against other teams from the South.
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo started the O.K. Program five years ago after meeting the founder of the program, former Sacramento, Calif., sheriff’s deputy Donald Northcross. The goal of the O.K. Program is to reduce the homicide rate and incarceration rate of African-American males between the ages of
12-18. The program teaches life skills and the importance of education.
Since the inception of the program, Cpl. Larry “Flip” Wilson with the Monroe Police Department said he has made it his goal to be a positive influence on as many boys as possible. He started the program in 2005 with only 15 participants, but over the past five years he has seen approximately 500 kids come though the program.
“Mainly these boys were having problems talking to each other and communicating,” Wilson said. “A lot of them go on to do good things, and they still call me back for advice.”
Wilson said since the program began, he has watched low grade point averages skyrocket to 4.0, watched communication skills improve and has formed a positive bond with the students. One of his proudest achievements is seeing program graduates go on to attend the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Grambling State University, Southern University and Louisiana Tech
Program participants do more than just step Wilson said the group is filled with talented artists, singers and rappers, and he is trying to teach them how to stay out of trouble and capitalize on their many talents.
Mayo said the program is a positive influence for area youth and that Wilson does a great job interacting with the kids.
“The important thing is to have an outstanding team member with the Monroe Police Department working with this program,” Mayo said.
“This program is all about achieving.”
Wilson meets with the group, all students at Wossman High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, on Saturdays at MLK for “kick-it” sessions. It is at these sessions where the boys get together to choreograph their moves. Their hard work paid off when the group traveled throughout the state at the urging of nationally syndicated radio host Michael Baisden.
MLK Principal Alvin Williams said he is proud of the students’ achievement and the growth of the program. He said the program is aimed at reducing the so-called “gang” problem in the area, where neighborhoods go against other neighborhoods in a turn war of sorts.
“The O.K. Program is trying to teach them it doesn’t matter where you were born, or what side of the tracks you live on,” Williams said. “We are all God’s creatures.”