A local men's organization is taking steps today toward improving the health and well-being of Meridian's young males.

    Bonita Lakes will be the setting for Meridian Men For Change's Let's Walk and Talk.

    "It's a day for men and young males of all ages to just come together and talk about issues in their lives and in our city, while we walk around the lake," said Tracy Sims, assistant director and co-founder of MMFC.

    "We are trying to create dialogue between men and boys, and to give these young men somebody to turn to," he said.

    The event gets under way at 9 a.m. and will continue until 12:30. There is no registration fee, however participants are asked to sign in.

    Meridian Men For Change is a group of local ministers who organized in 2007 to make a difference in Meridian, particularly its youth.

    "We offer mentorships, do a little public speaking and organize events such as the walk-and-talk," Sims said.

    One of the group's most visible efforts took place shortly after its inception at the now-defunct Kate Griffin Junior High School. The ministers were a presence on and off campus – greeting the students at the start of the school day with words of encouragement, then returning at the end of the day to tell them goodbye and to accompany some students home.

    The Rev. Stevie Mosley, founder of Meridian Men For Change, said the group's work with local youth is an extension of the organization's outreach ministry.

    “I’m a firm believer of the ‘it takes a village to help a child grow’ concept — especially in this day and time,” Mosley said. “A lot of our young people don’t have both parents at home, or they don’t always get the positive reinforcement they need — particularly our young black males.”

    For the walk-and-talk, mentors will be assigned to young males and they will engage in conversation as they walk around the lake. Free pizza will be served.

    Plans are to make the walk-and-talk an annual or biannual event. Several conferences are also in the works.

    "We also do one-on-one mentoring with young men as well," Sims said. "What we're doing now is trying to find a way to them, and we hope this event will be a start."

    To contact Meridian Men For Change, e-mail meridianmenforchange@yahoo.com or call (601) 678-7516.

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