By Reg Chapman

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Seeing what’s happening in the world around us has created a need to provide guidance and support for young Black men.

Now a group at Central High School in St. Paul is changing lives.

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“Young Mentality” started with just 10 guys. Now more than 30 take time to meet every week. They share concerns and ideas about improving themselves and the community.

Navigating high school and life outside of school can be challenging.

Central High Senior Jay Rhodes was one of the first to ask about a group to help support young men.

Rhodes said it’s intended “for all young men that need more guidance and role models in high school and to be steered in the right direction after high school.”

Rhodes, Drevonnte Dinkins and Charles Logan says the group Young Mentality was founded to show young men a different way.

“We needed this group because there are a lot of young people who have given up at a young age and they don’t have the right people to steer them on the right track so we made this group for everybody to come together so we can steer them in the right path of success,” said Dinkins.

Overcoming obstacles is the goal of this group and thats the message they got from motivational speaker Darrick Rizzo.

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“I want them to know you don’t need to have no guns you don’t need up can change and put your pain into purpose,” said Rizzo.

Rizzo’s message spoke on tragedy in his life and how he took the pain and turned it into purpose.

From his humble beginnings in Brooklyn to now Marketing Director for Music Superstar Master P, Rizzo overcame obstacles by “King Kongin.”

“King Kongin means you are a conqueror, a warrior, a soldier. It means you are blessed by the best and you’re highly favored and you will never ever give up no matter what obstacle comes in your way, no matter who is hating on you, who is bullying you. That’s what King Kongin is and I just wanted to come back here and touch them and bless them and Master P donated this $500 check to the Young Mentality Group,” Rizzo said.

“We have students who are 4.0 GPAs we have students who are captains of the track team and we also have students who are struggling academically and who aren’t involved and engaged,” said Gene Ward.

Advisor Gene Ward says this group brings all together to see the totality of how dynamic they are when they stand together.

“Young Mentality” now includes young women and LGBTQIA+ students as well.

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They all have the same focus, to be better and help the community be better too.

Reg Chapman