By Jim Brown
We frequently hear stories about how too many of our young people are living life on the edge — making one bad decision after bad decision, which sometimes leads them to join gangs and face a tragic, early death.
Last week, single mother Emisha Williams spoke with the SUN about being determined to change the life direction of her son, who was headed down that path with a similar group of youth in their Cheltenham community. She challenged her son to change his behavior and engage himself with positive male figures at the churches that he attended and was a turning point in his life.
“My son has come a long way,” Williams said “We [had] some difficulty in his younger years, but now he’s growing up and he is a remarkable young man. I have tried my hardest to keep positive influential men in his life. So, it started at the church at Young Abraham’s at 7- years- old. And that is a program that is run by Senior Pastor Alyn E. Waller to keep young men out of the system. He knows when they get older, that they are headed down a wrong road without positive male influences.”
“So, he started there, and then, he joined the Boy Scouts, and he’s been in Boy Scouts ever since,” she continued. “He has a great scoutmaster, who was a schoolteacher, and [I’m] just keeping him active with men [male] figures due to not having one at home.”
Keyan never knew his father, Keyan Parker, Sr., who died before he was born. Keyan didn’t want to end up being among the negative statistics that today’s youth fall into — being shot, killed, or shooting someone himself and being locked up. Hearing Keyan speak about his past, and how he has been able to use the positive alternative programs and influence of men at Enon Baptist Church and Senior Pastor Alyn E. Waller to help shape his future, was refreshing and inspiring.
SUN: How did you become an Eagle Scout?
Keyan Parker Jr.: I started as a “Webelo”, I guess you can count that as a Cub Scout. I was at church one Sunday at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church and I saw an ad on the screen about boy scouting. My mom was like, ‘Hey, do you want to join the Boy Scouts?’ So, I said, ‘I’ll give it a try’ and I went to a few meetings, and I started enjoying it. And that’s how I got into the Cub Scouts.
SUN: How long have you been in the Boy Scouts? What are some of the things you do as a scout?
KPJ: I’ve been doing this for six years, so, a lot of things that lead up to it was like, all the camping trips and the racquet basement. So, we would go on these little weekend camping trips with my troop. And it was just really all those experiences that I’ve learned — a lot of things about things in the wild, plants and learning how to start fires and I learned to cook on those camping trips, which really is useful in life.”
I also learned how to be a respectful young man, because our Scoutmaster is really big on that. So, we would always have these little discussions on how to sit in the classroom and learning how to listen [and] to pay attention. Because, you know, if he’s talking and you’re talking, neither one of you are listening.
SUN: As you hear all of these things about crime and youths your age being a part of it, how do you avoid that crowd and maintain your focus on being an Eagle Scout?
KPJ: Back when I was in middle school, I was hanging with that kind of crowd and then, I was always getting in trouble in school and not paying attention and turning my work in late. So, my mom said that I cannot hang around those kids, because those kids are not for you. I started kind of moving away from them and I became closer to my friends in the Boy Scouts, and to not do bad things.
SUN: What influence has your mother been on you in helping you make good decisions and being an Eagle Scout?
KPJ: She’s been supporting me always through stuff, even if I did something wrong. She was always supporting me and pushing me to do my best. And it’s really good to have someone in my corner that is always helping me, because, even if I didn’t like doing it, she would always tell me that you don’t leave it unfinished, even if you don’t feel like it. She would always push me to get it done, because it’s [going to] always pay off in the long run.
SUN: What kind of things do you do to become an Eagle Scout?
KPJ: We take these things called merit badges, which basically there’s over 100 merit badges. What you do is go to a merit badge college where they have all of these different counselors that are very experienced in that field that you take. It’s basically to see what interest[s] you, so you can see what public speaking [is like]. There’s rifle shooting, there’s sports and of course there’s archeology — that’s a whole different field [where] you can earn a merit badge. I have 58 merit badges. But I’m only required to have 21 merit badges.”
I want to be able to help the boys in my troop to become an Eagle Scout, because, we have a lot of young boys that are close to reaching that (Eagle Scout) [but] also some people and boys quitting and I don’t condone that [when] they were really close to becoming an Eagle Scout.
SUN: What do you want to be when you grow up and how are you going to get there?
KPJ: I want to be in technology support systems dealing with computers. I like technology and helping people who can’t really understand it. Right now I’m a junior in high school. This year I’m taking [the] class, “Introduction into Programming”, so that I can get used to computers. And next year, I will take the AP version of that. When I get to college, I’m going to start taking those courses because I already have some knowledge of computers and all of that type of stuff.
SUN: What would you say to other young men your age about the importance of having positive alternatives and activities in your life?
KPJ: Well, I would just tell them to join and participate in as many activities as they can, because the more they do, the more they’re out of the streets, the more they’re not hanging out with the wrong people. Always try to be active, because the more they’re doing good things, the more they can learn and be more successful in life.
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