‘I Promise’: A New Hope for At-Risk Kids

Article by: Sam M.

Graphic by: Alessandra R.

In fourth grade, an at-risk kid living in Akron, Ohio, missed 83 days of school, moving from one rickety shelter to another. At-risk kids like the aforementioned one need a helping hand, need opportunities to get his life back on track as they are less likely to transition successfully to adulthood. Thanks to amazing mentors, he was able to turn his life around, and he even started playing organised basketball once he was in fifth grade. Without good mentors to help him, Lebron James’ life would have truly been different. He wouldn’t be the three-time NBA Champion and four-time league-MVP that the world had come to know.

Yet, with all his fame on the basketball court, James’ work for the community is what he regards as his greatest achievement. Before leaving Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers, James opened a brand-new eight million dollar school named the ‘I Promise’ school in Akron, Ohio. The ‘I Promise’ school aims to help at-risk kids, with support from a collaboration between the Lebron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools. It opened its doors on the first week of August 2018 to 240 new third and fourth graders.

As Lebron James reminisced about his time growing up in Akron and the difficulties he faced, James told ESPN, “Walking these hallways and seeing, when I was driving here, just the streets that I walked, some of the stores are still up when I was growing up…is a moment he’ll never forget.” He hopes that the kids will never forget it either. The famous basketball star’s mission is to help kids overcome what he faced as a low-income student in Akron.

His new school has tons of new perks for at-risk students, such as free tuition, uniforms, daily meals, transportation, a new bicycle, access to a food pantry for their families and tuition covered for graduates who attend University of Akron. The ‘I Promise’ school has a few fundamental goals, such as an accelerated learning focus, providing job placement assistance for parents, and giving student support from economic stresses. The school also features longer school days, down-time access to the school and anchors its curriculum on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to promote scientific and mathematical thinking.

As the all-time basketball legend is going above and beyond to help at-risk kids have better education and social welfare. It helps families with “true wrap-around support, true family integration and true compassion,” according to Time Magazine. Lebron James is to be remembered not only for his basketball skills, but his activism within the community. James is an inspiration for many at-risk students who want to learn and positively contribute to society.