CLEVELAND — Some elementary and middle school kids in Cleveland got a chance to envision their own stories during a field trip to the Cleveland Public Library.
The program is called 'Man Up, CLE,' but this is really about redefining the phrase that carries a stigma of toxic masculinity.
During their stay the group of boys learned about the importance of financial literacy, creative writing, art therapy and media marketing.
It's all for a mission to combat a troubling statistic. According to Seeds of Literacy, 66% of Clevelanders are functionally illiterate. That means they don't have basic reading skills.
Erica Marks started hosting these programs for young boys five years ago. She thinks at this age, it's better if there are no girls allowed. This session was all about empowering boys.
She even invited an example for students to model. Kwame Mbalia is the author of the New York Times best-seller 'Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky' and he handed out copies to the kids.
There will be another session just like this to help empower girls as well, it's called 'Girl Power' and is slated to happen in April.
This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.