HOUSTON (FOX 26) — How many lives have you changed today? One group may not be able to count that high and FOX 26 News is featuring it as part of the Positively Houston series because the young men of Kappa League are perfect examples of the concept at its finest.
"1, 2, 3, be great!” the guys chant together with their right arms extended in front of them, huddled in a circle, before throwing their arms in the air with big smiles on their faces.
The members clearly encourage one another, they pray with one another, goof off with one another and together, they are looking forward to amazing things but life hasn’t always been that way.
"I was lost," admits 16-year-old Kendric Thothion. "I didn’t have that many people to talk to. Kappa League surrounded me with positive people and role models that encouraged me to do better.”
"At first, I didn’t really see myself as having a bright future," describes 16-year-old Gregory Taylor. "As soon as I joined Kappa League, everything has changed for me. It pushed me to work harder in school.”
Bryan Tigner is an algebra and geometry teacher at Worthing High School. He is also the co-director of Kappa League, a mentoring program by the men of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity for boys in 9th to 12th grade.
"We take you from wherever point you may be in your life, interact you with multiple guys across the city and therefore, we see a major transformation,” explains Tigner.
”Oh, it’s a great program," says 18-year-old Brice Gambrell. "We help the community. That’s the part I love.” Gambrell was one of many young men to join Kappa League who was doubtful about attending college.
"Oh my gosh, when he first entered Kappa League as a freshman, he was very shy, introverted," describes Enja-Lee Doyle, Brice's mother. "When he was three years old, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. He was nonverbal for a very long time. They said he would not ride a bike, would never play sports and he would not probably ever independently live.”
High school senior Brice has been accepted into six colleges.
“It’s very emotional, very emotional," adds Brice.
"I couldn’t be more proud of him,” says Doyle. She explains that she couldn’t be more grateful to Kappa League.
Tigner has been a mentor in Kappa League for seven years.
"I made a promise to myself to leave this community better than when I entered it," says Tigner. "Also, I want to give back and make sure the stereotype that many see with the black males in our community, I want to demolish that."
The guys will leave over the next weekend on a seven-day trip, visiting universities from Georgia to Washington, D.C., as part of its annual college tour.
"They get to interact and see people just like them who are actually on a college campus and that gives them the motivation," says Tigner.
When I visited, the guys told me in Kappa League they not only make friends for life but also enjoy a new-found family.
"If I need to talk to anybody, any one of them, they got me,” says Thothion.
If you are the parent of a young man in high school, you're probably wondering where to sign up. Find Houston Kappa League on Facebook, @houston_kappaleague on Instagram or email the group at email@example.com.