BALTIMORE — An East Baltimore man's mission is to turn boys into men that people can look to as leaders.
COR Health Institute is a free leadership training for boys from 14 to 18.
Munir Bahar founded the institute in 2015 and on Monday he held the first open house at his newly built dojo in East Baltimore.
“All my life I’ve witnessed young black men, boys including myself fall through traps and cracks and society that lands them in jail, kicked out of schools, engaged in scarring criminal activity that will scar them for the rest of their lives,” said Bahar.
14-year-old Mark Peters sat in the front row for Bahar’s presentation with his mom and younger siblings behind him.
“For my age and the size that I am now. I used to get bullied, jumped,” said Peters. “I want to be able to defend my family.”
He was the first to hand in his registration for the first step which is a physical fitness test.
The course is extensive-broken down into ten leadership principals.
The families only pay for the boys $100 suit.
The rest of the 3 day a week yearlong training has no out of pocket cost, but Bahar is quick to shut down the idea that it is “free” -- they sacrifice a lot in effort and commitment.
“A comprehensive curriculum that drills down on psycho-social habits or tool that young people need in order to step out and be leaders in their community,” said Bahar. “Not just in the stance of standing in front of people and talking. Standing out on paths that they know are positive that may not be going with the flow of young folks around them.”
Half the people in the crowd are mother’s who brought their boys impressed by the chance that Bahar is giving young people.
“Our boys need leaders, they need men to step up,” said Naimah Sharif, a mother of two. “A lot of times the men in their homes are absent. I work in Baltimore City Public Schools, so I hear it every day about fathers being absent.”
Peters is looking forward to growing into a man and said his ultimate goal is to get his family out of Baltimore or to provide a better life for them in his home city.
“I want to be able to provide for them and I want to be able to be there for my mom,” said Peters.
Bahar knows every kid won't make it through.
The payoff for him is watching the potential he sees tonight turned to triumph.
“I do see them all as a ticket to a brighter future. Everyone has the potential for opening up a better future for this city.”
Monday was the first of three open houses, the next two are January 13 and 20.