The Power of Books for Our Children
AAP Youth Spotlight
In the summer of 2017, when AAP Director Bryan Vinson came to deliver books for AAP’s Build-A-Library project at Raising Expectations, Akeem Haqq was there to help him unload the books. When AAP spoke with Tangee Allen, co-founder of Raising Expectations, she was excited to share Akeem’s progress thanks to the Build-A-Library project.
Akeem is now a senior at Washington High School and participates in Early College through Georgia State University. He is applying for colleges in Georgia and Alabama and wants to study engineering with a focus on computer science and gaming.
Why highlight Akeem?
“We have worked with Akeem since he was in middle school. We have really seen him grow and benefit from this project supported by United Way of Greater Atlanta and the African-American Partnership.”
What changed for Akeem through working with the project?
“The project has allowed him to believe in himself. Akeem comes from a background with challenges. His mother never graduated from high school and his father is a pet tech at a local pet store.
Thanks to this project, Akeem has people in his life to remind him that he is academically gifted. It encourages him to celebrate his love of reading at a time when reading isn’t considered ‘cool’ for a young African-American man. Akeem has a path to a postsecondary education that he can really actualize.”
What has been one of the most impactful experiences for him through the project?
“Mentorship from older men of color has been particularly meaningful. Before working with Build-A-Library, most of our mentors were college-age students. Our work with the African-American Partnership opened the door to add mentorships with professional African-American men, providing ongoing mentoring sessions with our students. Many of the young men in our program are growing up in single parent matriarchal households. This element makes a real difference.
Akeem works with his mentor Quinton on a weekly basis. One of the more impactful activities Akeem and Quinton did together was read books by African-Americans who had to survive difficult circumstances. The two discuss each book. They read The Kid by Sapphire. Quinton related parts of the story to his own journey which added context to the book.
Quinton complements others in Akeem’s life who all work to hold him accountable for the choices that he makes in his life.”