Live Oak —
The African American Development Council and Gethsemane Church of God in Christ are having their grand opening of a museum and educational center on Feb. 16 at 3 p.m.
“This is our library, a museum, drum ministry and 4-H,” said AADC President Yvonne Scott. “We’re incorporating a few things in there. It’s a work in progress.”
The idea had come to Scott after TS Debby came through Suwannee County. She’s been concentrating her efforts towards it ever since.
“I’m a community leader,” said Scott. “And because I’m a community leader, I want to leave something for the kids to do.”
Scott wanted to emphasize that although the museum and center are located in the upstairs of the church, that its focus is on the community and teaching children.
In the different rooms of the museum are photos, posters with photos and biographies, newspaper articles and various sized multi-colored printed material that covered the walls.
“I believe in messages everywhere,” said Scott. “You can visit this place four, five or six times and come back and see a different message.”
Scott and others in the AADC want to instill in the kids positive growth, respect for others and themselves and for them to be inspired and reach their goals.
“We are celebrating our seventeenth anniversary,” said Scott of the AADC. “We have given out over $180,000 (in scholarships). When they come into this room, I want them to look at a picture, look at a story and have a talk session on what they saw.”
Scott said that she was a foster child and that Malcolm X and Nelson Mandella were also foster children. She wants kids to know that no matter what their background or what struggles they have, through hard work, they can achieve their goals.
“I made it,” said Scott. “God bless that I’m not a statistic. So, this is my story. It starts with me.”
She pointed to several different people from the community who were leaders and positive role models and the resounding theme was that they all knew the importance of having an education.
Scott pointed to a biographical display of AADC member attorney Winifred Acosta NeSmith who is also the one honored and chosen to perform the ceremonial ribbon cutting on Feb.16.
“She is a proud resident of Suwannee County,” said Scott. “She comes and gives back to her community. Very committed. You name it, she does it, so all her history is here.”
There were several bookcases and other areas that hold books and magazines that Scott had set out for the kids.
“Everyone is not blessed to have magazines,” said Scott. “You can come here and read a magazine and get something out of it.”
Scott had started collecting magazines through the church when she saw kids who were bored, responded to reading magazines and learning.
Scott added that she wanted to also start a reading incentive program. This would mean that a child would be rewarded for reading three to four books. They would have to state the title, the author’s name, write a brief summary and give an oral report.
“This will help the students comprehend what they’re reading,” said Scott. “If they’re not comprehending, we can help them.”
The reward? Free food coupons from Krystal or Taco Bell (Scott is a manager at Krystal). She said the only stipulation was that the kids had to have their school identification or be accompanied by a parent.
Scott pointed to other bookcases full of books and other things she had acquired over time to contribute to the learning center like pens, markers, pads and various other school-type supplies.
“We are ready,” said Scott. “The kids have to come to learn.”
Scott pointed to some drums and djembes (a type of drum whose origin is west Africa).
“We’re going to have a drum ministry,” said Scott.
Marilyn Porter was present and wanted to explain the what and why of a drum ministry.
“The drum ministry will expose youth and their families to the histories, heritage, culture and music of our African American ancestors,” said Porter. “We’ll explore our ‘roots’ through creative self expression, coordination, collaboration, cooperation and presentation.”
“I should speak about Brownstone which is my non-profit corporation,” said Porter. “We have an Afrocentric curriculum. We incorporate all the academic subject matter through the cultural arts.”
Porter stressed how effective learning through this method was as she has been asked to conduct various workshops using drums and other percussive instruments to teach children.
“It catches them. It gets their attention,” said Porter. “We need things that will compete with the computer, movies and little video games.”
Porter also said that for over-active children, it can be a great way for them to use all that energy, but in a positive, constructive way.
“They have to use their energy to cooperate and the product is beautiful,” said Porter. “Once it is done, it stays in their mind.”
Scott explained what plans she has in mind for the back yard through the 4-H.
“For the 4-H, I want to do a community garden,” said Scott. “They grow the garden and help people in the community. It has no name. There’ll be a competition to name the center. But the theme right now is ‘Together, we are determined to make a difference’. It takes all of us to make a difference.”
The center is located at 1018 Northwest Duval Street, Live Oak, and the hours will be 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tentatively starting on Feb. 26.