Ujima’s youth program in Bend returns, teaching students cultural awareness and leadership


Free Afterschool Program in Downtown Bend Begins Third Quarter

(Update: Comments from Ujima Youth Program Co-Chair Marcus LeGrand)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Entering its third term this week, the Ujima Youth Program aims to help middle and high school students thrive in central Oregon.

“We’re teaching them about other arts and cultures, like today we’re going to show the first episode of Roots,” the acclaimed miniseries, program co-chair Marcus LeGrand said Wednesday. “We’re going to let the students also do the carpentry workshop, and they’re going to be able to learn about different tools and how things work.

The donation-based program, hosted by the Father’s Group in Bend, aims to promote leadership, academic achievement and cultural awareness. Topics include body image and West African drumming and griot culture.

Based on growing attendance since last term, averaging around 15-20 students, LeGrand expects the number of students involved to continue to climb.

The program takes place at the District Education Center in downtown Bend.

The themes are strongly focused on the African Diaspora.

“Primarily to imbue our cultural heritage with an Afro-centric perspective,” LeGrand said. “We’re still focused on so many other things, but we need a place to feel centered.”

With a mission to expand the scope of cultural education that is not usually part of the school district‘s curriculum, the program is open to all students who wish to learn more about it.

Starting Wednesday, students will also learn Swahili, one of Africa’s oldest languages.

They can also expect to discuss topics such as music production and civil rights during the seven-week tenure.

“A lot of us have kids in the school systems, and we’re noticing that so much of our heritage and our culture is not being taught,” LeGrand said. “So as men and as leaders, and as professionals, we said, ‘Hey, let’s step up and do the things necessary to make this better. “”


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