Swope Health announces a new edition of its podcast, One on One with Swope Health, featuring Erik Dickinson, president, Urban Ranger Corps.
Eric Wesson, founder and publisher of The Next Page KC, a newspaper focused on the Black community, hosts the show’s conversations with Kansas Citians about issues of importance to the community’s health and wellbeing.
Urban Rangers is a non-profit dedicated to mentoring young men from the urban core, helping them develop individual talents, skills, and abilities, while growing successfully from boyhood to manhood. The program provides paid jobs as well as training for the young men, with a focus on personal responsibility, respectful work, effective interactions and making a difference through community service.
Erik, a native of Wyandotte County, discusses his 30 years of non-profit work with urban youth, from the Boy Scouts of America to YMCA to Urban Rangers. He describes how he came to this work, which he now calls “the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had.”
Erik sees himself in the young me he engages with, and that connection undoubtedly helps him in giving guidance, especially to young men from single-parent households who may not have male support.
He sees violence and anger as the major issue facing the young men he works with. “We try to teach conflict resolution. You can de-escalate anything. You don’t have to go to violence, it doesn’t have to become a violent encounter,” he said. “You can really talk your way out of most things if you’re willing to talk and just be decent.”
The violence is prevalent in society – in video games, movies and TV that show regularly show guns and brutality as common in daily life. Erik also cites easy access to guns, lack of male mentorship, breakdown of neighborhoods, and loss of neighborhood schools as “a gumbo” of factors that contribute to the rise of violence.
The Urban Rangers program helps the young men build a plan for their future, whether that involves college, learning a trade or career, being a better husband and father. Erik wants his young men to be prepared for life outside of high school and equipped to make a positive difference in the lives of others.