TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Omega Lamplighters have grown into a guiding force for young black men in our community, and this weekend, they're hosting their inaugural March Madness stepshow.
Lamplighter David Leconte's self-proclaimed black boy joy is just one example of the growth and nurturing our community members find in the Omega Lamplighter Mentorship Program.
"From being a junior lamplighter now to an Omega lamplighter, it brought me so much joy in myself," he said.
His mother, Camilya Highland agrees, adding "Oh I have seen a lot of growth. They used to be shy, especially David. He used to be, you know, standoffish and quiet, now, oh my gosh I can't turn him off." She says she sought out the program to surround her sons David and Delandre with positive male role models. "As a single parent, and not having a father in the house, and then all the gun violence and the harsh things that's going on in society today, I read on the mentorship, and they was involved a lot with the youth," she recalled.
That involvement sometimes comes in the form of community events, and others, in the form of heart to heart conversations on tough topics.
"We have workshops about gun violence and suicide and stuff like that," David said. "The way Mr. King was talking to us about it kind of touched me. ... More black young men could have been doing that too."
"I choose to stay around from that," said David's brother, Delandre, who's also a lamplighter and explained how the program has helped him. "Like if you see people doing it, like, you tell them to get away from it, and, like, grow up."
Founder and executive director Royle King says he's proud to offer guidance that helps him see "young men in our program daily make those small changes."
The brothers are both excited to participate in this weekend's step show. "We've been practicing for a good minute," Delandre said.
Their mother says she's pleased with the imprint it's had on her sons' character. "Oh my god, my heart smiled," Highland said. "Just seeing them doing way more than I would expect, cause I'm like, is these my babies? Oh these are young men now."
Leaders look forward to the event leaving a lasting impression in communities near and far. "This will be our annual event, and grow, and maybe inspire other teams to develop in Tallahassee but more than anything let men here see what they could be," King said.
March Madness starts Saturday, March 4 at 3pm at Florida State University Schools.