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Training tomorrow’s leaders today

MURFREESBORO – When Hertford County High School graduate James Boone and Northampton County High School – East graduate Terry Williams met, they had a common vision.

The two saw that many teens in the community needed an alternative to their regular surroundings and realized a change was needed.

The result – Future Leaders In Action (FLIA), a non-profit organization that serves as a computer lab and training site, a talent agency, tutorial center and a host to many other activities to get kids off the street and into something positive.

&uot;We saw what the community needed because we grew up in it,&uot; Boone said. &uot;We know how we got where we are today and we’re trying to provide a different alternative to violence and drugs for local kids.&uot;

The two believe that teaching computer skills is a vital tool for youth today, as society is becoming increasingly computer relient.

&uot;Computer literacy is a must in the modern day with even the simplest jobs requiring it,&uot; Williams said. &uot;The times are changing and we don’t want to let these kids get left behind.&uot;

The group teaches all basic computer skills, including word, Internet access, emails, faxing and more.

They are able to provide these services to lower income families who couldn’t afford a computer otherwise, but get computer and internet access through FLIA.

&uot;Many lower income people cannot afford computers,&uot; Williams said. &uot;Computer literacy has become a graduation requirement and it’s not fair to hold kids back just because they can’t afford a computer.&uot;

Another tool taught by FLIA is application and resume making, which are taught through workshops.

The group plays host to many activities throughout the year, including model talent shows, basketball tournaments, step shows and gospel fests.

Arguably, FLIA’s most popular event is their annual holiday step show, which will be held this year on December 3 at NCHS – East. The show features groups from as far away as Raleigh and Charlotte.

The model talent show is another popular event for the group and will be held in Windsor in August of this year.

&uot;We’re just trying to keep the community active and enhance all the skills we can for them,&uot; Boone said.

All these programs are free for the youth involved, as FLIA continues to be a non-profit organization.

Funding of the events are done through other businesses that Boone and Williams run, such as a table and chair rental group and providing sound and lighting for special events.

&uot;We rent out for reunions, weddings, graduations and all kinds of events,&uot; Boone said. &uot;Most recently we did the sound for Chowan College’s graduation and all of the money we get from these events goes to FLIA.&uot;

Other funding for the group comes from fundraisers, private donations and ticket raffles.

FLIA partners with Youth Expressions, led by Kim Jenkins, in reaching the youth and serves five counties, including Hertford, Northampton, Bertie, Gates and Halifax.

Summertime is the busiest for the different organizations as kids are out of school and college students are back in the area.

FLIA employs college students over the summer to both work with kids on computers and serve as mentors, resulting in not only a positive summer job for college students, but also more teachers for the kids.

The group also uses college students for outreach during the summer, hopefully getting people more involved with FLIA.

The outreach attempts during the summer are mainly done handing out fliers in public or visiting churches and promoting their cause.

During the school year, FLIA recruits members from the schools, but are mostly aided by the schools referring students to the different groups, particularly Youth Expressions.

People like Boone, Williams and Jenkins have brought these positive programs into the area, hoping for a change – a change that will only come through action.

&uot;We’re trying to empower and motivate the youth of this area,&uot; Boone said. &uot;We want them to know that they can do great things by being mentally strong and working hard.&uot;