Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center Guides Youth with Life-Changing Program

Rule #1: Your life is the most valuable possession you own.

This is the first and most important rule taught to South Bend’s youth through the MADE program.

What is MADE exactly? MADE is a Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center program that mentors and provides strong examples to thousands of young people in South Bend on how to end violence and change lives.

“Across the country, we see a lot of kids that are dying and getting locked up for violence and other social behaviors,” said Center Director, Maurice Scott, “Here, at the center, we have a cure for it. First, we identify and eliminate the problems causing the behavior. Secondly, we help them deal with the emotional residue. Then, we help to give these young people new rules to live by.”

Originally starting with values from San Francisco’s Alive and Free Movement, MADE was initially introduced through Martin Luther King, Jr. Rec. Center’s True Soldiers basketball program. Noticing the positive impact, MADE values became an active piece of the center’s routine through other programs like open gym, Wednesday neighborhood meetings, power jam sessions, and summer trips.

“After a lot of one-on-one here, I made the decision to turn my life around, and things went from bad to good,” said Jason Jordan, center program coordinator and long-time participant of MADE.

Recently, the outreach for this program developed even outside of the center. This is the second year that MADE is in local high schools, and there are intentions to implement it in local intermediate centers soon.

“As a former member of South Bend Community School Corporation, I know that teachers are restricted with how they can help these kids. But at the center, if you’re hungry, I’m going to make sure you have something to eat. If you need help with money, I’m going to help you get that job when you come here,” said program coordinator, Estelle Hollaway.

For their efforts, Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center received recognition at Indiana Park and Recreation Association’s (IPRA) 2016 Awards of Excellence when MADE won the Innovative Program Award. Even through this important acknowledgment, the center’s staff members remain humble and continue to look for new ways to improve the program.

“I don’t do it for the income. I do it for the outcome,” said program coordinator, Cedric Joseph-Pauline.

“We know that changing behavior isn’t a one-step process — you can’t hug it away. But, we are offering the cure and we believe in these kids,” said Scott, “Male or female, we are all on a journey to be MADE daily.”