In today's fast paced and often troubled world it's easy for children to lose, or not even discover, their self esteem, ability to trust, even love. Children today too often grow up in neighborhoods swimming in guns, drugs and violence. In our modern throw-away society where can they turn to seek role models? Direction? Who hears them when they turn to self destruction and violence in their quest to be noticed?
One man who noticed them tugging on his heart back during the riots of the early '90s is Michael McMeel, former drummer for the band, Three Dog Night. Michael could not have imagined how that first hear-tug would lead him to create a national program that, to date, has touched and changed over 10,000 young lives. The program he would found in 1992 is called, "Inner City Slickers."
But Michael started connecting with young folks in the cities long before founding Inner City Slickers. Of course with his music, but also his TV show, The Krofft Super Show with Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, and organizing musical events in churches, synagogues and wherever he could bring young folks together to show them the good that lived inside them. To shine a light on what they could be. It was during that period he realized changing directions of young folks was a real possibility, and he set out determined to do just that. He founded, The Awareness Foundation, a non-profit to help "at-risk children" in 1992; the first step in creating, Inner City Slickers, the theme inspired by the movie, City Slickers.
His first "Slickers" event was on a rented camp not far from LA. Organizing an event set with a western them with ranch activities, horses and a little work and focus. In that one day Michael saw hearts change. Attitudes brighten. Optimistic and encouraged he bought a small ranch of his own for the purpose of hosting more "Slickers." His dedication to the children, and the program, and with help of donors and volunteers the ICS idea took root and sprouted branches. Seven years ago he and his wife Erlinda relocated to a farm in TN which operates as home base and hosts several "Slicker" events a year. But that's just the beginning. The branches that have sprouted now go nationwide, and beyond. There is even a Slicker possibility in Costa Rico!
|All smiles at the end of the day at a Michigan Slicker event :)|
What is an Inner City "Slicker event?" It's a one day event hosted by anyone who wants to help at-risk kids, has a few horses and suitable home base, or can find someone who has one. Michael travels to each event and helps with set-up and out-reach. He personally sets up the mechanical bull! At-risk children are engaged in western theme, including the "Cowboy Code of Ethics" and ranch like activities, and of course plenty of horse time.
|Feeling the power of "The spirit of the horse"|
By the end of this year there will be 18 Slicker locations across the country, where young folks come to get a leg up on "Kindness, Dependability, Keeping Your Word, Being Responsible and learning what it’s like to Trust and Respect the horses, themselves and each other…ethical and moral codes that will stay with them throughout their lives." Can a one day event do all that? "You bet," Michael says. "We see it over and over. It sets a new course." And they have thousands of letters to prove it. "And let's don't forget the follow up. Making sure we keep in touch with these kids, to keep the fire burning."
Michael points out that folks simply don't understand we are losing too many of our kids. They disappear down the whirlpool of low self esteem, drugs, crime, mistrust and lost hope. He is dedicated to saving those kids. Inner City Slickers is a remarkable, and fun, program doing just that.
How can you be part of the excitement of changing lives, sparking hope? Many of our Coffee Clutch readers and friends already have facilities and horses where you could host an Inner City Slicker Event. Or can make contacts to co-host one at a friend's. Don't worry, you won't be on your own, Michael will personally come to guide you each step of the way from contacting organizations and services who know of children who would benefit, to setting up and actually be on hand to help you host your first Slicker. Yes, he travels, a lot!
|Michael givin' "Bull Ridin' Lessons"|
How can you get started? Contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone – home- 423-289-3820. Cell-423-489-8614. Can't be easier than that.
|Michael introducing children to a horse at a Slicker event|
Have a look at their Website HERE and their Facebook page HERE, be sure to join their group. There's a lot going on, and many young lives being changed.
|It can happen in a moment ... Inner City Slickers|
Inner City Slickers knows we have it in us to save these kids. To be the role models, and offer direction and goals. Thank you Michael for offering a hand to so many.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry.
|Letter to Inner City Slickers ...|