Crime and drug abuse among African American male youths often stem from poor self-esteem and false notions of manhood. Men of Distinction (MOD), a successful prevention and intervention program run by Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, is working to combat these problems by boosting self-esteem and providing positive educational and recreational training and programs for African American male youths age 9 to 17.
The program's goals are to prevent homicides among at-risk youths by helping them cope with violent environments and teaching them methods for overcoming the obstacles they face and to help them lead a positive, healthy life.
The youths are residents of some of Nashville's toughest public housing projects: John Henry Hale Homes, Preston Taylor Homes and Andrew Jackson Homes. Program officials originally went door-to-door in the projects to recruit participants. Now, youths hear about the program through fliers that are distributed in those areas or by word-of-mouth.
Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, a Methodist-affiliated nonprofit organization that runs programs for the poor, initially received funding for Men of Distinction in 1989 from the Governor's Black Health Care Task Force of Tennessee. What began as a …