The Warrior’s Tour Is Making A Difference In NYC Schools
Reformed ex-druglord kingpins Lance and Todd Feurtado are teaching young people that street knowledge can get them through college. Under the umbrella of their anti-gang Queens-based nonprofit, the King of Kings Foundation, the Feurtado brothers are to speaking to New York City middle and high school students about the dangers and consequences of guns, gang violence and drugs. Set to revamp this fall, the “Anti-Drug/Anti-Gang Warrior’s Tour Program,” or the “Warrior’s Tour” for short, implements intense workshops to equip teens and preteens with the tools they need to become responsible and productive members in their communities.
Once notorious for running one of the largest drug distribution rings in the U.S. in the 1980’s, the born again Feurtado brothers launched the “Warrior’s Tour” in 2011 to address and combat the root causes of youth violence. They, along with the “Warrior’s Tour” messengers, use their street creditability to speak first handedly about the ramifications of succumbing to negative social influences.
“After touring the country with Bill Cosby, Lance and Todd made an assessment of the challenges that the students are facing and decided to put together this tour which consists of experienced and certified men and women from the community who identity with the struggle,” says Kamell Ellis, the “Warrior’s Tour” program coordinator.
One of the stops on the tour included the Queens High School for Info, Research and Technology in Far Rockaway. For eight weeks beginning last April, the workshop facilitators taught forums on gangs, anger management, bullying and obesity.
“We give them a more in depth history to how we came up [and] some of the things that we been through, and we use that as a tool to help them recognize the stumbling blocks, the pitfalls and the traps that are out there,” says Lance. “We are so passionate about coming back to schools because when we were their age no one took the time to talk to us. We can relate first hand about what they’re going through or might be experiencing because we been there and done that.”
Principle Edward Shepard of the Queens HS for Info, Research and Technology says that the “Warrior’s Tour” is an antidotal remedy to the primary challenges that his students face. “We wanted to have them come and talk to our students because they are from this community, they’re from the Far Rockaway area, and they have gone through some the same kinds of teen experiences that our young people have,” he said. “We thought that by them sharing their experiences and how they came through, our young people can be encouraged, could be helped and moved from where they are now into better places and better decisions making,” says Shepard.
Tabulated records indicate that since the program started almost 700 students have been positively affected by the Warrior’s outreach measures. Based on assessment test given before and after the workshops, “Warrior’s Tour” reports denote that nearly nine in ten students learned a lot from the workshops and more than 90% of students said that the workshops were very helpful in steering them in a positive direction. The results also show that students became notably more aware of the effects of bullying, gangs and dating violence.
“I basically could relate to everything that they were saying,” says Zion Sotomir, a graduating senior at Queens HS for Info, Research and Technology. “I got locked up; I was a Latin King [before] I dropped [out]; [and] I do smoke and I drink.”
18 year-old Franklin Reed who graduated at the end of the school year says he walked away with the message that “street knowledge will get you through college.”
This summer Ellis says the “Warrior’s Tour” will hold a community BBQ at the Van Wyck Park in Jamaica, Queens on August 11th.