Youth mentors needed for growing Federal Way community support network

The Federal Way Youth Action Team (FWYAT), a collaboration between King County Juvenile Court and several Federal Way community programs, is growing its capacity for connecting youth to opportunities to grow into healthy and happy adults. 

Providing youth with life-changing support in Federal Way can start with something as simple as a basketball game.

That’s what Game of Life founder Winston Bell knows to be true after using basketball games at the Federal Way Boys & Girls Club as a way to open youth up to conversations on the sidelines about mentorship, employment, mentorship and other life skills.

“They come for basketball, but they’re able to get so many of the services people in the community are offering,” Bell recently told King County TV.

Andre Bullard of the Positive Outcomes Program consults a young man off-court.

The Game of Life is part of the Federal Way Youth Action Team (FWYAT), a collaboration between King County Juvenile Court and several Federal Way community programs that is growing its capacity to connect youth to positive opportunities.

Youth referred to the program often end up having fun in other kinds of classes such as cooking and nutrition planning.

At the heart of the team’s ability to connect to youth are credible messengers – adults who can relate to the youth’s life experience.

“A lot of things I went through growing up, it’s like, I can only relate to people like me,” said Rayshawn Parker, 19, who’s been a regular at the Boys & Girls Club. “Just having a black male figure to show me and tell me things to really let me know this is okay, this is not okay … I was a little hard-headed and they coming around really helped me a lot. I’ve matured a lot.”

Other community organizations that make up the team include the Positive Outcomes Program and HYPE (Helping Youth Produce Excellence).

“The main focus is, how can we help you?” said Andre Bullard of the Positive Outcomes Program. “You’ve got a lot of kids growing up in dysfunctional homes – single mothers, single fathers, none, some are just looking for some form of guidance.”

Jason Clark, King County Juvenile Court’s Equity & Social Justice Advocate

Jason Clark, Equity & Social Justice Advocate for King County Superior Court, says partnering with FWYAT helps Juvenile Court know where they can refer South King County youth to community programs.

“It builds that bridge for young people back to their community,” said Clark. “They get skill sets in the community with people they’re going to see at the grocery store.”

The team is searching for more mentors. As Positive Outcome Program coordinator Willard Jimerson said at a recent King County Council Committee hearing, services that connect youth to education and employment opportunities are much more effective with supportive, culturally appropriate relationships.

To find out more about FWYAT or how to become a mentor, you can contact the programs and coordinators listed below:

The Federal Way Youth Action Team

theFWYAT@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/FWYAT/

Helping Youth Perform Excellence – HYPE

Executive Director Charissa Eggleston: 253-740-8198, charissaecw@comcast.net

http://hypefederalway.org/

https://www.facebook.com/hypefederalway/

Positive Outcomes Program – POP

Youth Case Manager Will Jimerson Jr.: 253-838-6810, willj@mschelps.org

Multi-Service Center (MSC)

P.O. Box 23699, Federal Way, WA 98003

www.mschelps.org

The Game of Life

Program Lead Winston Bell: 253-653-1099, everybodycanwin@aol.com

In the News: 

KUOW: Gun violence was killing teens, so two Federal Way moms stepped in

KUOW: Need: Black mentors to keep kids out of jail. Comeback stories a plus

The Stranger: Community roots: A short-lived diversion program steers East African youth away from criminal justice system

King County Employees: Spotlight on Jason Clark, Equity and Social Justice Advocate for Superior Court

King County TV: Federal Way Youth Action Team