Students at Florida A&M University are taking time to mentor youth through music.
Zackary Richardson, founder of The Character Center located on Wahnish Way, came up with the concept of making a CD that encourages students to do well on the FCAT and guide children through the trials and tribulations of life.
“I would like to see kids be successful pushing beyond the norm,” Richardson said. “I would love to see children graduate high school with their associate arts degree before going into college.”
The album Richardson and a group of volunteers created addresses topics youth can relate to such as talking to their parents and being a good citizen.
“The album has different songs that children can connect with their lives,” said William Miller, 22, a senior business administration student from Chicago. “There are songs that tell children do not sell or do drugs because it is one thing to tell children not to do drugs, but we should also communicate to them not to sell drugs in the community.”
Richardson explained one song on the album that deals with children seeing their parents contradict the morals they instill in their children.
“One of the songs on the album entitled ‘Questions’ deals with the child asking the parents questions about their parenting skills,” he said.
Miller, a volunteer coordinator at The Character Center, said the CD’s motive is to help raise awareness of the importance of passing the FCAT and becoming a thriving individual.
He said most children need a positive figure in their lives to direct them toward a promising future.
“Most black children do not see positive role models walking around them along a path of an encouraging destination,” Miller said.
Other Rattlers have taken time out to volunteer at the character center.
Brittney Smith, a fifth-year business administration from Selma, Ala., goes to the center to help the children with their homework and other activities.
“I go about two to three times a week, and I help the children with their homework, and then we work on activities that the center provides that pertain to the children grade level,” said Smith, 23.
Marita McKee, 20, from Pensacola, volunteers four days out the week with fourth through seventh graders. She said children should use this album to their advantage when taking the FCAT.
“This album is a creative approach to get students prepared for taking the FCAT, and it is important for students to look at taking the FCAT in a positive way,” said McKee, a junior history education student.
Throughout the month of March, Richardson and “The Big Headed Beaver and Friends,” a group of mascots, toured Leon County schools to get students involved and excited about performing highly on the FCAT.
“We did eight shows at different elementary schools throughout the city, and we are doing another show for the FCAT celebration,” Richardson said.
The album consists of children from the center singing and rapping. The center is selling the album for $10 to raise money for its summer camp.