Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The VPR Saturday Special goes to "The Promised Land"

Majora Carter hosts a new series from American Public Media; The same public radio organization that brings you the hits such as A Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, and The Splendid Table.

The Promised Land delivers the stories of passionate men, women, and young people who are changing their communities with innovative thinking and tireless effort after hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

The first episode features Dr. Kyshun Webster, founder and executive director of Operation Reach, an extensive family of programs for kids throughout the Gulf South.

Kyshun grew up in the St. Bernard Projects in New Orleans where, at the age of six, he saw his uncle murdered. He started struggling in school and was held back in the first grade. Thus began a lifelong makeover for Kyshun, who now holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. At the age of 12, he started a lending library out of his parents' garage, which grew into a "home for homework" after-school tutoring program.

He fought back to transform his own life and now inspires the lives of other disadvantaged youth. And because of the endless need among neighborhood kids and Kyshun’s sheer determination, he now oversees what he calls a “cradle to career” program for youth that extends to three states in the Gulf South.

Kyshun's Operation Reach runs (to name a few) a full-time child development center; the Gulfsouth Youth Biodiesel Project, where kids recycle cooking oil for use as environmentally friendly fuel; and the Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps, with camps that teach young people philanthropic skills. The kids annually award $50,000 in grants to other youth-lead projects.

Future episodes spotlight community gardens, coastal oil clean-up, rebounding fishing communities, and empowered women.

Listen Saturdays at 4pm for The Promised Land.

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