Lifting Handz program seeks youth mentors

By Brie Handgraaf

Staff Writer

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A passion to help young people and an hour is all local youth advocate Michael Moore is asking for.

“People want to see a change in the future of our young people,” said Moore, founder of Lifting Handz, a mentoring program for Rocky Mount youth.

Moore knows what many area youth face on a daily basis since he admits to living “the thug life” while growing up in Baltimore. He landed in jail before he saw the error of his ways and now he is reaching area youth – nearly 60 so far – before they end up with a criminal record that can threaten their future.

He has seen some positive changes in the boys he’s helped mentor, but he wants more for them and for that, Moore said he needs more support from the community.

“This is an important issue,” Moore said. “If we can promote peace, then we can empower and develop our community.”

Moore has helped participants find and develop their individual passions while instilling a passion for giving back.

Lifting Handz has a full schedule of events planned this year, from outreach programs with local organizations such as the Braswell Memorial Library and United Community Ministries to the second annual Stop the Violence

Basketball Jamboree, which brings youth from multiple counties together for games throughout the summer.

Lifting Handz has helped many of the participants raise their grades, increase their participation in school activities and even encourage a few to flex their entrepreneurial skills with small businesses.

“The streets promote what I called the ‘dumb certificate,’” Moore said. “(Youth) are praised more for criminal acts and getting out of jail than graduating school. They cling to that praise even if they know it is wrong because they are living for the moment.”

Lifting Handz is Moore’s mission, but he said he needs the support from others to have it make the most impact.

From those willing to donate financially to business leaders willing to share their stories of success with the participants, anyone with a willingness to help is invited to be a part.

“This is a community problem, and the community is the answer,” he said.

Moore also is accepting applications for teens interested in joining the program. Call Moore at 252-676-5393 or email him at 
liftinghandzmtm@gmail.com.