OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Students at Omaha North High School are stepping up to become positive role models for younger children in their community.
"Although we're still in progress of making sure that North Omaha gets to a place where we're all satisfied, I feel like it starts with us," Senior Tyvon Smith said.
Smith and his friends are members of the Omega sQuires mentorship program, which is organized by the Beta Upsilon chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
The program focuses on developing professional skills, devotion to community involvement and activism, as well as social skills.
"When you're mentoring if nothing else, you're always hoping that they come out better than maybe where you found them," Co-chair Nicholas Banks said. "[And] not so much because of your efforts, but the relationships you build."
In an effort to help those in need before Christmas, the teens partnered with local elementary schools to collect canned goods for those in need.
The teens have collected about 600 cans.
"I've been here all my life but I've never seen so many homeless people every single day," Senior Meki Sullivan said. "We want to give back and help any way that we can."
The teens say the drive is just one small step to becoming the change they long for in their community for them, representation matters.
"How often is it that you have young black men that are in high school that say I want to come and help, and I want to help do something with your kids?" Smith said.
"I grew up [knowing] people in jail, dead ... and the things that I saw them doing in middle school, it carried on and now they're doing it as adults,"Senior Malachi O'Neal said. "It kind of always motivated me to do better and try to encourage other kids to do better.
Banks, and Co-Sponsor Fred Whitted, agree having positive male role models leaves a lasting impact on the teens.
"When you have the opportunity to really affect positive change, starting with that next generation as opposed to hoping to fix more seasoned people, you have the ability to focus on the positives as opposed to what's not ther," Banks said. "You know, you really start to direct your attention to what could be."