Stop Whining and Change your Meal

Youth violence is summed up in one statement: “We’re hungry and all that you have given us is an appetizer to appease our appetite to stop the rumbling. You have not given us the full meal to make us full and this is why we keep coming back.”8988

As long as the kids do not have any activities, they do not have a mentor and they do not have the community engaging into their lives then they will continue to “just have fun”. Yes, it was said and they have the right to say it. Why? Because they have asked, they have begged and the only response we can provide is to take away after school activities. What will that resolve? It will only enlarge their territory to do more damage. Then who will we blame again, the kids.

We are not listening to their cry. No, we cannot save all kids but we can save more than what we have now. It was a time when you had drama class, ROTC, youth activities, more sports activities that did not cost parents their arms, legs and a kidney to get their child involved. It’s understandable that the economic status has changed and income is much needed but when you charge so much, you are denying the students who are in low poverty level to be involved. Those are the kids you need to touch.

We make excuses all the time about what students are doing wrong but how many are out on the front line without charging as much if any, to make a change and help? Taking away after school activities and not letting programs in the school is not the answer. During a forum with 6 teens, they stated if they had a mentor or if they had more sustainable and consistent community leaders who cared about their success, they would be less likely out on the streets. They want adults to be held accountable for their child’s actions, they want adults to install common sense and make them conscious of their activities and behavior and most importantly they actually know there are repercussion but they also know they will not be held accountable for it; therefore, they will continue to do so.

Kids are yearning for that responsible role model, that person that will hold them accountable for their actions, that leader that will be there to show the right path and that parent that actually cares. Now what will you do to make a change? Will you continue to give them a nugget happy meal or will you start giving a Filet Mignon? Stop whining and do something!


Life after suicide

Imaged after you get a call saying your brother was found dead on the side of the road with a gun inflected wound to the head.  He had just committed suicide and he left you this note:

“I wanted to start by saying this is not anyone’s fault but mine.  This is my decision and I did not base this on anything anyone did, said, acted, or anything else.  I have had this on my mind for the past few years, probably since high school.  I made this decision because I am tired of being hurt and depressed.  I have been in pain of some sort everyday of my life.  The most hurtful is knowing and leading a good life and realizing that what I do does not matter.  I want to be remembered as a servant leader, thoughtful, generous, fun and intelligent  person.  About 2 years ago, I was diagnosed as a “high functioning” manic depressive (once known as bipolar). I tried my entire life to fill the glass of others with no regard to myself.  Despite what light you saw me in, that was the goal of my entire life- to empower others. Unfortunately, I chose not to continue this life and thus probably hurt a lot of people.  No one else should do the same selfish act that I have committed. I apologize.”


When I read the news about comedian Robin Williams had committed suicide, I automatically thought of this letter MY brother left for ME.  My response was how dare he leave me, how dare he commit such a selfish act.  Then I turned and said where did I go wrong, what did I miss?  At age 27 he took his life and I couldn’t ask questions why.  But his letter said it all.  He was tired of being hurt and depressed.  He was tired of being everyone’s else motivation but he wasn’t getting the empowering and motivation he needed.  He made people smile, laugh and feel good about themselves.  People saw him as an individual who had no worries because he always smiled.  Is that how Robin Williams felt?  He made us laugh, he made us cry and most importantly he had a family that depended on him.  But where was his help, his laughter, his outlet?

We look at people and see their smile and think that everything is ok.  But the signs are visible, we just ignore them because we believe it’s part of society.  You know the drinking heavily, smoking more than usual, selling their belongings or buying guns more often than normal.  Perhaps sleeping more or taking pills to fall asleep because they are depressed.  They may just say they are just tired and we believe it. It’s time to really look at the signs and acknowledge it.  One statement my brother, Norman Paul Nolen II, left me personally was make sure I said thank you, don’t say I love you unless you mean it and SHOW others that you care and don’t just tell them.  That bothered me because I wasn’t for sure if he said it in generalization or perhaps I did him like that.  Was that one of his trigger points?

In the bible it talks about growing through discouragement.  Paul thought about taking his own life. He “despaired even of life” (2 Co 1:8).  Yes we all have our ups and downs but do we have someone we can really talk to without being judge? Discouragement to me is only a temporary set back that we can overcome, IF we have faith, talk to someone and really look at the heart of the issue.  I know for my brother his trigger point was love and support from others who he had supported.  Yes family was fine but he wanted that outside love returned back to him.  When he was discouraged in his relationship, that was his last trigger point.  He had set his heart on it and when it fell apart, to him that was his last straw.

So what do you think Robin Williams trigger point was?  What made him make that decision that he couldn’t take it anymore?  We will never know?  All we do know is he left us with amazing memories that will last forever.  Since my brother’s death, I have made some major life changes and choices to help me cope with this tragedy. It’s been hard, extremely hard but I read his letter for that one sentence he left me, “Shun, you are the strongest most given and selfless person I have even known.  Be strong.  I know that it will be hard, but you are stronger that I will ever be.”  If you lost a love one over depression, what have you done to help you get through it?

It’s your fault young adults don’t vote

As of August 6, 74,757 (13.9% of the 537,223 total registered voters) have voted early in the Shelby County Election of 2014. 2.1% of those voters’ age range from 18-24. The older generations is concerned about these results. Why is the youth not participating in the election? Being an 18 year old who grew up in Memphis, I can answer that question for you. I will bust the myth that my generation does not vote because they cannot stay out the club or any other negative statement. The problem is that we do not know much about this process, ignorant on who to vote for, and some are too embarrassed to ask questions.

Personally, I did not know much the voting process. I really did not pay it any attention until I attended Memphis Challenge’s annual summer soirée at the National Civil Rights Museum this year. Cassandra Webster, the executive director, stressed the significance of voting to my fellow MC alum. She said that we cannot complain about the community if we do not vote. Her words abided in my head as I toured the museum.

She later introduced me to a candidate in this year’s election, and both of them asked me if I was registered to vote. I was ignorant about the voting process at the time, so I said that I had just turned 18, so I guessed automatically that I am registered. Ms. Webster corrected me, and told me that I will have to wait until November if I do register. I was disappointed, and I began to wonder how many of my peers have voted or even know about the election.

That night, I tweeted “RT if you already voted” to my 904 followers. I know that is not a lot of followers, but I just wanted to find out. Only two of my followers re-tweeted it, and one girl asked me what election was I tweeting about?

I also asked one of my friends if she has voted yet. She replied with a no, and said that she is only registered because someone from her government class in high school mentioned the voting process to her. She also stated she hasn’t vote yet because she knows nothing about the candidates.
Young adults are ignorant to voting. They don’t know who the candidates are or what they represent. Although Bridge Builders help young adults understand but that’s not enough. One teen said he said he didn’t want to give the power to someone who didn’t deserve it and that’s why he didn’t want to vote. During a recent survey of 8 ranging ages 18-40, 6 said no they had not voted and did not plan on voting. One lady stated she did not vote because her parents did not vote and she didn’t understand the elections so she wasn’t going to vote.

Overall before we start saying young adults want to be in the club, party and have no future, start to think have we or the delegates done their due diligence and educated the young adults on why they should vote, how it effects them and their future and who and what they represent. To get more of them to vote, talk to them more because they are our future leaders.

Written by Keturah Harris and Leshundra Robinson

How are you making a difference today?

Rising Student M.A.D. gives the community, teachers, parents and their peers the opportunity to nominate a student who has made a difference in the community, at school, or even at home helping their family to strive to change. Students are often embraced as juvenile delinquency only because they don’t have the right guidance. With Rising Student M.A.D. you will see these students are the opposite and have been willing to change their environment by making a difference.

wpid-20140620_143028.jpgMeet Christopher Wilson, 13 years old and a student at Colonial Middle School with a 4.5 GPA! Yes, over the barometer with a 4.5 GPA and striving to do better. We met up with Christopher at the Benjamin Hooks Library to talk about his nomination and winner of Rising Student M.A.D. (Making A Difference) in the community. Christopher was in his sharp light blue suit prepared for an interview. We asked Christopher what he thought made him different from other 13 year old students. His response was he had 2 different ears that made him hear further and what he felt made him understand his lessons better.

With a 4.5 GPA, a joy for reading books such as The 39 Clues Series and books by Andrew Clements and a peer reader for the non-profit organization, Successful Single Moms Memphis and Smart Start Family Literacy Program, you wouldn’t think he would have time to have fun with his friends but he does! He takes time out to be a typical student by playing games, going skating and just texting each other. He is known to his friends as the “problem solver”. They go to Christopher for advice which is amazing to me as he is only 13 years old. Beautiful! His most noted quote to his peers is “Don’t give up but strive for the success.” His mother, Irene Ford, has really been a great motivator and role model for him to follow. He sees her always working to help others, reading and making a difference so he directs his path to emulate her.

One question we asked Christopher is what do you think teens need to do to improve the community? His response…volunteer and help the elders. He helps his 90 year old grandmother with chores around the house.

Each month we will spotlight the winner of Rising Student M.A.D. on our website, media and other social sites. The student will also volunteer with the organization representing Rising Student M.A.D. At the end of the year, we will have all Rising Student M.A.D. attend our Christmas Gala December 20, 2014 at Wingate by Wyndham. Only one of the Rising Student M.A.D. will be honored a small scholarship for a college of their choice! Deadline to nominate a Rising Student M.A.D is the 27th of each month. The winner will be announced and featured on at the end of each month. Send your nomination to

Teen Talk

This will be a great opportunity for teens to talk freely about issues they are pressing to them with peers.  No judging, open conversation with experts that have been where you have.  It’s FREE and refreshments will be served.  You can also will have the chance to 2 win 1 ticket to the Dare 2 Dream Teen conference July 25-26 at Bridges located at 477 N. 5th Street from 11-3pm. Go to

Check out the story!


“Promote Being Yourself” – Rising Student M.A.D

Meet Ricky Floyd, Jr.
Galesky the artist!wpid-20140606_114330-1.jpg


As you know each month we spotlight a Rising Student M.A.D. (making a difference) in the community. We are a little behind but have caught up with our April’s Rising Student M.A.D, Galesky AKA Ricky Floyd, Jr. We met him and his family at The Office @ Uptown located downtown 594 N. 2nd Street to talk a little about why he felt he was making a difference in the community.

Galesky is only 15 years old and changing the lives of many young teens in the community by his poetry. Born as Ricky Floyd, Jr., he attends Central High School as a 10th grader and enjoys writing and rapping about poetry. He has recently performed at Memphis Business Academy in Frayser for their teen summit. The students were able to relate to his poetry and even asked could he come back to give more inspirational thoughts. Galesky started writing at a young age; he considered himself the “nerdy type” and didn’t want to follow the crowd. So he wrote poetry. He felt you should own up to your own style of nerdiness and just promote being you.

His plans after high school is to attend one of many great art schools in Memphis, Visible College of Arts located in Downtown Memphis. He wants to perfect his craft in poetry and even try some other instruments such as bass and acoustic guitar.

Watch UCAN’s interview to see more and hear his poetry, which has received over 1,200 hits on his YouTube Channel!  

If you know a student in middle or high school that is making a difference in the community, nominate them by sending an emailing telling us why you think this student should me a Rising Student M.A.D.

Kenndy Anderson has solution to stop teen violence in the community




Kennedy Anderson is the exception of building a new brand.  Kennedy is a sophomore at Central High School with a 3.8 GPA.  She enjoys theater, writing and public speaking which lead her to UCAN of Memphis as the 2nd lead in the anti-bully play “You Can’t Hold Me Down” which was March 8 at Le-Moyne Owen College.  Kennedy was nominated for Rising Student M.A.D. by her tenacity of change.  She was quiet and timid when we were first met but before hitting the stage, Kennedy became this fierce and confident young lady who was willing to help make a difference.

Kennedy stated, “After joining UCAN of Memphis, I have been more active in the community. I was a model at the Memphis Black Expo and I recently volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help the duties of building new homes.”  She enjoys giving back to the community and helping others.  She also believes it would be less teen violence in the community if more teens volunteered in the community like with organizations such as UCAN of Memphis.  This has been the 2nd Rising Student M.A.D. that has made this statement; so if teens are saying it what can we do to make it happen?  

As a 16 year old, she said she is very mature for her age.  She enjoys being fashionable with her friends but she also knows the limits.  She was taught well and wants to emerge that same wisdom to others her age.  After graduation she plans on going to a 4 year college to major in journalism.  Perhaps she could be our intern for Rising Student M.A.D. ?

Rising Student M.A.D.  exemplifies a student who is willing to make a difference in their community.  Kennedy Anderson has done just that!  If you know a Rising Student M.A.D., nominate them by the 27th of each month to be spotlighted on our website, media and other social sites.  The student will also volunteer with the organization representing Rising Student M.A.D.  At the end of the year, we will have all Rising Student M.A.D. attend our Christmas Gala December 20, 2014 at Wingate by Wyndham.  Only one of the Rising Student M.A.D. will be honored a scholarship for college of their choice!  Send your nomination to


Interviewed by Christy