Moses Wyatt Jr. was lucky to have men in the community as role models who helped shape him into the person he is today, but he knows there are kids today who are not as fortunate.
“Our community is not thriving,” Wyatt said. “It’s not going up; it’s going down.”
That’s what inspired Wyatt to coach young people, where he combined teaching sports skills and life skills. Over his nearly 20 years coaching middle school football and basketball, Wyatt engaged with more than 500 kids in the Kansas City, KS Public School system.
For the past two years, through Wyatt’s position as the Behavior Intervention Specialist at Grant Elementary, he has been coaching third, fourth and fifth graders on how to lead a successful life through an organization he founded called the Jegna Klub.
Now expanding to include middle school students, the group partnered with One Touch Building Maintenance to obtain its own building located at 221 N. 18th St. in Kansas City, KS.
Jegna Klub will hold a grand opening of the building on Mon., Sept. 28, noon to 6 p.m. The celebration will kick off with a haircut social with the first 150 Wyandotte County students receiving free haircuts donated by barbers from the Purple Label and Surrcutts Shops. There will also be food, hygiene packs and shoe giveaways.
The Jegna Klub, which reaches students through its Boys to Men and Sisterhood programs, teaches youth to build positive relationships, character traits, social skills, financial literacy and introduces them to a variety of potential future careers. Each year the program has reached approximately 100 students.
Since Jegna Klub has been at Grant Elementary, Wyatt said behavior referrals and suspensions went down almost 25%.
“In the building, you can tell which boys are in the Boys to Men Klub,” said Kendra Murphy, a kindergarten teacher at Grant Elementary who also has a third grader in the program. “If I need a student to help me with something, I ask those boys because I know I can trust them and they’re responsible.” Because of the group’s success at Grant, she is glad Jegna Klub plans to expand into middle schools.
Until Jegna Klub expands into other schools, Wyatt said the new facility will allow them to reach students from middle schools and other elementary schools through their weekly meetings and monthly evening socials.
Each month, the group holds evening socials where they learn professional skills like how to tie a tie. The group also invites professionals from the community to come to the social and introduce their careers to the students. Students have learned from professional photographers, lawyers, barbers, policemen and even District Attorney Mark Dupree.
Wyatt said partnering with police officers and the Black Police Officers Association is especially important for the students while they are young.
“We want to bridge the gap and we want to be the bridge early. It’s so important to build that relationship because of what is happening,” Wyatt said. “A lot of the reason why that is happening is because that relationship is torn down.” Part of the way Jegna Klub builds that bridge is introducing police officers to the students without their uniform, so they can see them as a person first.
Because of the pandemic, Jegna Klub has not held their usual monthly evening socials and other meetings in person, but now that they have a new building, Wyatt hopes they can slowly bring back those programs while social distancing.
Wyatt hopes the facility will help the group continue to serve the KCK community in other ways as well. The group is working on adding a clothing closet so students have access to back-to-school clothes if they need them and a washer and dryer for students to learn how to do their own laundry.
“I want my community to be successful and these are the ones who will be running the community,” Wyatt said. “They will be the storeowners and district attorneys, so we have to teach them and show them the importance of building relationships. It’s not too early to think of your future. If they win, our community wins.”
Jegna Klub is looking for volunteers, coaches and donors. To learn more about how to get involved, visit: www.thejegnaklub.org/donate.