LAWRENCE, Ind. —Vendors, community leaders and influential speakers joined together Saturday for the third annual UPLIFT Youth Expo.
UPLIFT, a united group of young pastors and community leaders, started in 2013 with a mission of influencing the youth of today to stop crime and transforming their goals for the future. It’s held annual expos to bring volunteers together to do community service and put families in touch with resources they may not realize are available.
The non-profits message is simple: “Influencing the hearts and minds of people for future development of lifestyles among people starting within the church, home and community paving the way for a transformation from the current state of being towards a positive direction for all.”
Central to the annual expo is a schedule of local speakers, which included a Wayne Twp. Schools teacher of the year, a former NFL player-turned elementary teacher, and a girl who’s overcoming life’s obstacles.
David L. Johnson III is a math teacher at Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center in Wayne Township School District. Johnson was invited to be keynote speaker at the Expo to share his experiences and resources provided through the Woodrow Wilson Center.
“Hopefully individuals when they come here will break away with an opportunity and vision with how they can take the gifts that they have, the skills that they have right now, and be able to apply those to their larger community and affect change in those areas,” said Johnson.
Fellow speaker, Corey Parchman, is best known for his work as an Indianapolis business owner and football career at Ball State and in the NFL. Parchman’s degree is in education, and this fall he put that education to good use founding the Mini Men Pre-K Academy in Indianapolis.
The Academy currently teachers 11 students ages 3-5 and introduces the all-male student body to “positive” male role models on a regular basis.
“If you plant those seeds at an early age, once they’re ready to go to kindergarten and first grade they’ve already got a little bit of what it’s like as far as being a responsible adult,” Parchman explains.