CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – In December, Queen City News and its parent company Nexstar launched a campaign to feature remarkable women in our area throughout this month.
We asked you to tell us about the remarkable women in your life, and you answered!
Several years ago, Registered Nurse Tesha Boyd started hearing more and more from young girls going through the challenges of teenage life. She began to set aside time for them to meet, voice their concerns, learn, and discuss those challenges, never thinking it would grow into the award-winning non-profit organization it is today.
After weeks of meeting with the groups of girls at Albemarle Recreation Center in Charlotte, the boys started to get curious and wanted to be a part of it, too. Suddenly, she had about 30 kids in the room. That’s when Promise Youth Development was born.
A typical evening meeting includes pizza… learning life skills like CPR… physical activity… and just hanging out with friends.
Then came Sept. 20, 2016.
The shooting of Keith Lamont Scott happened in Charlotte, leading to numerous riots around the city. Tesha could see a change in some kids during group meetings.
“The kids were petrified,” she explains. “They would not talk to us; they would not open up… you could see the fear in their eyes.”
Tesha approached the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, asking if they could meet and talk with the kids. They happily agreed and have been coming ever since.
Officer Ryan Butler is one of those officers. He says their meeting had such an impact that some still go out of their way to attend.
“They’ve left, and they’ve moved on to different assignments, but it’s important to them, and they see how impactful it can be.”
Tesha says the greatest reward is seeing that impact—seeing the change happen.
“We’ve seen them go from fighting or cursing people out or letting their emotions rule their decision-making… to getting to the point like, ‘Nah, I’m gonna chill, ignore that.’ The things we teach them, we see them demonstrate later on. It’s so beautiful to behold.”
Dejahn Taylor has been attending the meetings for a while now. He says he really appreciates everything the group offers.
About Tesha, he says, “She really loves us for real.”
As far as the meetings go, Dejahn simply says, “They talk about real stuff… it’s a place where you can express yourself.”
Express yourself and have fun, but you’d better still behave. As everyone lovingly calls her, Tesha Boyd, or ‘Mama T,’ is watching!
“The police officers started calling me Mama T, and it was so funny because when they joined us, I would tell them like hey, do this, do this, don’t do that, put that back, and don’t touch this, so it became a joke,” Tesha explained. “Like, Mama T, she doesn’t play; y’all better do exactly what she says! So from that point on, even some of the kids started calling me Mama T.”
CMPD Officer Stephen Iyevbele is in awe at the daily work “Mama T” does.
“She takes her personal time,” he explained. “She’s never stopped working for those kids. She’s planning field trips; she plans activities they can do tomorrow, day after tomorrow. She’s always working for those kids.”
But to Tesha, it feels like something other than work.
“This is what I’m supposed to do now with my life,” Tesha said.
Promise Youth Development is available to kids ages 8-18; all services are free.
To register or make a donation, go to their website.