On Monday morning, the Tunisian government shortened the curfew imposed last Tuesday, saying the security situation had stabilised. The North African state has witnessed a tumultuous 10 days. On January 14, Ridha Yahyaoui, a young man from Kasserine, a small town in the country’s interior, committed suicide – by electrocuting himself – in desperation over his…
Cover Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
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–Brandon Okpalobi has made waves in Miami’s non-profit space with his organization Dibia Dream.
-The non-profit exposes at risk youth to unique opportunities in STEM fields and in sports.
–Okpalobi is a former University of Miami basketball player. He also runs a for profit youth sports training company.
–Okpalobi has big dreams for the organization and hopes to see it expand to more locations across South Florida and other parts of the world.
Giving is a trait that Brandon Okpalobi exercises every day.
This young CEO of a youth training program works with children frequently to unlock their potential through sports.
A former University of Miami basketball player, Okpalobi became an entrepreneur and nonprofit founder after his playing days ended.
And in many ways, Okpalobi has never been part of a more important team than he is now.
Okpalobi, 35, founded Dibia Athletic Development in 2011.
The company, which trains young people in various athletic skills operates in Miami, New Orleans and overseas in Bermuda and the Bahamas.
He also expects to expand the program to Latin American and Nigeria soon.
In 2014 he was able to expand the brand to Dibia Dream, a non-profit that helps underserved youth develop life skills.
Okpalobi said that he gives back to his community because of the example he saw from his father.
“In 2007 my father took me to Nigeria and built a community center for his village,” Okpalobi said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “I saw the impact from it and I realize I need to give back more because that is going to bring the change we want to see.”
Okpalobi grew up in New Orleans to a Nigerian immigrant family.
He was a standout high school basketball player and attended the University of Miami in the early 2000s.
He was a guard on UM’s basketball team from 2001 to 2005 when he went undrafted in the NBA Draft.
When playing in the NBA was no longer his goal, Okpalobi used basketball as a vehicle to pursue other ventures.
“Basketball is my everything,” Okpalobi said. “It brought me to Miami, it kept me in Miami, it allowed me to start my for profit and opened up doors I never had.”
Dibia Dream is Okpalobi’s nonprofit that he launched in 2014.
This venture exposes under-served children to activities like art enrichment, science education and athletic training so they can develop new skills.
It has quickly become established in Miami’s growing non-profit space.
Through this program, Okpalobi has helped expose over 4,000 children to experiences they would have never otherwise experienced and has given out 600 scholarships for summer enrichment experiences.
One of the major features of Dibia Dream is STEM Saturdays.
On Saturdays during the school year, Dibia Dream allows students to participate in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects.
Okpalobi designed the program to be a “safe haven” for at risk kids during the weekend.
In 2016 Okpalobi was a recipient of the BMe Community Award.
This is a $10,000 grant given to black men leaders in South Florida who are trying to better the community.
Okpalobi used his grant to expand the STEM and arts program at Dibia Dream.
“We want to give the kids as many options as possible,” Okpalobi said. “When kids have more exposure to these things they tend to look at different career opportunities.”
According to Okpalobi, Dibia means “master of knowledge/wisdom” in Igbo.
According to the Dibia website:
“The term refers to traditional healers, experts and doctors. The process of becoming a DIBIA involves years of training and many levels of initiation. DIBIA means TRAIN TO BE GREAT.”
In July 2017, Dibba Dream partnered with the Nyah Project to bring 10 students to South Africa.
The group worked with three schools on various projects and made an impact in the area according to Okpalobi.
Okpalobi has done a lot to serve the children and he plans to do even more in 2018.
Coming up in January, Diba Athletic Program is organizing the sports clinic for Zo’s Winter Groove, the event hosted by former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.
He also plans to open two more facilities for Dibia Dream in North Miami and Liberty City.
Okpalobi’s latest act of giving was a toy drive he organized with Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School on December 20th.
The goal was to give toys to the less fortunate and homeless children at the school, but there was a problem.
How do you give toys to poor kids without embarrassing them in front of their classmates?
To keep the privacy of the children who were less fortunate, Okpalobi worked with 14 year old Ransom Everglades High School student Jack Fitzpatrick to provide a lunch from Jimmy Johns and a toy.
Fitzpatrick and his family raised $10,000 on GoFundMe for the kids at Eneida M. Hartner.
Last year, he raised $5,000 for the same cause.
Okpalobi is highly regarded at the school.
“It’s a blessing to have someone within the community to reach out and wants to be apart of the school,” Dr. Derick R. McKoy, the Principal of Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School told RISE NEWS. “He wants the best for children and he helps Eneida Hartner bring the world to the children.”
McKoy drove the point home further.
“You know the African Proverb, ‘it takes a village’?,” McKoy asked during an interview. “Well, I’m happy Brandon is in my village.”
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A Petition Campaign To Name A Building After Harper Lee On The University Of Alabama Campus Is Picking Up Steam
An online petition campaign geared towards pressuring the University of Alabama to rename a well-known campus building after Harper Lee is gaining traction.
The campaign, which was launched just hours after Lee’s death wants the flagship university of the state to rename Morgan Hall to Lee Hall and has already picked up over a few hundred signatures.
Morgan Hall was named after John Tyler Morgan, a Confederate general and statesman who had ties to the KKK after the Civil War.
Alabama student Jessica Hauger launched the petition on Change.org.
She thinks that the name change would be a huge sign of progress at Alabama.
“Upon the death of Harper Lee, who attended the University of Alabama from 1945-1949, the University has an amazing chance to show our support for racial equality, as well as to honor the legacy generally of a woman who promoted kindness and empathy for all,” Hauger wrote on the website. “Lee was doubtless the University’s greatest contribution to literature, and it would be more than fitting for our English building to bear her name, which reflects so much more accurately the values of the University of Alabama, than that of white supremacist John Tyler Morgan.”
Lee is best known as the author of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, a 1960 fictional work that inspired generations of children and anti-racism activists. She was born and raised in Alabama and attended UA.
“I decided to post something today because it was always kind of a no-brainer to me that Morgan Hall, the English building, should be named after Harper Lee, one of the most famous people to attend UA and easily the greatest writer to do so,” Hauger said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
Hauger said that she believed that “To Kill A Mockingbird” is easily one of the most beautiful books she’s ever read, and that it’s “holistically honest” about people and race.
“It makes clear the ambiguity of people, that no one is all bad or all good,” Hauger said. “I think her tone is perfect for what the University should be doing right now – accepting our history of discrimination and recognizing that acceptance as an important step to improving upon our community and campus.”
The idea of changing the name of a campus building long associated with a racist and which also houses the English department could be especially poignant considering Lee’s position as a voice for reform in the New South.
“Harper Lee is an almost universally loved figure, and her name next to that of John Tyler Morgan makes the right answer seem so clear,” Hauger said. “She is a unifying figure, and one that the south, Alabama, and the University can be proud of. I think placing her name on Morgan Hall would make a statement that we are moving toward the values and goals that Lee expressed in her work and life.”
You can sign the petition here.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.Post Views: 108
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History was made in Broward County on Thursday night when Hollywood Hills High School quarterback Holly Neher threw a 45 yard touchdown pass to receiver Alexander Shelton.
It was the first time that a girl had thrown a touchdown in the history of Florida high school football.
And it happened on Neher’s first ever snap.
She would finish the night with two completions and 66 total yards. Hollywood Hills lost to Hallandale High School, 21 to 7.
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