Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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January 25, 2014

'Bigger than themselves'

Author Wes Moore discusses youth's potential for positive impact

A best-selling author, Rhodes Scholar and Army veteran from Baltimore found common ground Friday with a student half his age from central Indiana who’s still on probation after his latest arrest.

Youth advocate and social entrepreneur Wes Moore spoke to a group of high school and college students Friday as part of Ivy Tech Community College’s 10th annual “Doing the Dream” event in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. He gave another presentation for community members later that evening.

At the student convocation, Moore shared stories from his troubled childhood, many of which are recorded in his New York Times best-selling book “The Other Wes Moore.”

Those stories connected with Dallas Wilkinson, 17, a student at the Crossing Education Center in Frankfort.

“When I heard him say that, I felt like he knew my life story and was speaking it,” Wilkinson said. “Ever since I’ve been [at the Crossing], I’ve just been striving. I’m trying to turn my life around.”

Like Moore, Wilkinson grew up without a father, and his mother was his main supporter. He and Moore both got into trouble with the law at an early age. While Moore was sent to military school in an effort to provide more structure in his life, Wilkinson spent four-and-a-half months at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Wilkinson got in trouble again after leaving the facility and recently spent time in jail. Now, he is determined to change his ways. After seeing so many similarities in their stories, Wilkinson reached out to Moore during a question-and-answer session for some advice on staying motivated to continue his positive path.

“There was never an ‘aha’ moment for me,” Moore told him. “My whole life has been two steps forward, one step back.”

Moore shared a few things he realized in his late teenage years that helped him sever ties with the negative influences of his past: understanding friendship and that true friends want the best for you, the responsibility for others that comes with leadership, and faith.

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