Banister’s Leadership Academy in the News

“Young Teens Pulled Into Crime; Local Community Group Providing Resources for Change”

 

Byron Rhodes hit rock bottom at a young age, but still had time to change his life and make the right choice. For him, that choice was Banister’s Leadership Academy, through which he now helps youth and their families as a recruitment and enrollment coordinator.

At just 12 years old, Byron Rhodes said he lived a life that propelled him toward violence and crime. And after hearing about the recent arrest of two teenage felons, he said he can relate to being pulled toward a criminal lifestyle. On Saturday, two young men, ages 15 and 16, were taken into custody during a traffic stop at North 30th Street and Kansas Avenue in Omaha around 9:45 p.m.

The 15-year-old was booked for criminal impersonation, possession of a defaced firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

“It is very easy to be influenced by a lot of the negativity going around, whether it’s trying to fit in, whether it’s trying to be cool, whether it’s just not knowing the consequences of some of the choices that you may make,” said Rhodes.

The 16-year-old was booked for theft by receiving and being a felon in possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

It’s a lifestyle that’s hard to break away from and Rhodes said for him it basically took, “Pretty much hitting rock bottom. Luckily, I was still, kinda good with bad at the same time. I was young enough to still have time to change my life, but I really just wanted to make the choice.”

That choice for Rhodes was and still is the Banister’s Leadership Academy. Through this local community group, he now helps youth and families as a recruitment and enrollment coordinator.

“If you want to change, you are going to have to break that connection with people who aren’t on the same page as you,” said Rhodes.

But a choice he hopes these recently arrested teens make soon.

“A Family Turns Tragedy Into Positivity”

 

Golden lost her son Tyrone Banister in 2007, and Wiley lost her son Kentril Banister in 2010. Both young men were killed in drive by shootings.
“To bury a child is the hardest thing in the world. When they killed Kentril, they killed me,” said Golden.
But members of the Banister family took these tragedies and turned them into something positive. Akile and Jennifer Banister started the Banister’s Leadership Academy.

It’s been seven years for one metro mother, but the pain of losing a child never fades. Patricia Golden shares the pain with her cousin Pernoral Banister Wiley.

“Even now I still can’t accept that he is gone, but he is, he’s gone,” sobs Golden.

Golden lost her son Tyrone Banister in 2007, and Wiley lost her son Kentril Banister in 2010. Both young men were killed in drive by shootings.

“To bury a child is the hardest thing in the world. When they killed Kentril, they killed me,” said Golden.

But members of the Banister family took these tragedies and turned them into something positive. Akile and Jennifer Banister started the Banister’s Leadership Academy.

It’s a program for kids ages 5 to 19 years old., and it’s all about learning leadership and becoming a strong individual.
Along with learning positive values like respect, the kids are in an environment where they can freely talk about the hardships and the realities they face, like gangs, peer pressure and violence.

“A lot of our staff has been through those different situations that came through it. So it is more of just repetition of saying you can do this, of being positive, and not always harping on small things, showing them a different way, a different approach,” said Akile Banister, CEO and President.

For Wiley, this program does more than just memorialize her son, it also is an outlet for her younger children.

“My sons are in his program, and I see a difference, I see a difference in them,” said Wiley.

The program is helping over 100 kids in the community.

“It take a village to raise a child, and everyone needs to take part,” said Golden.