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'Dose of Reality' tough-love program turning Toledo's kids away from going down the wrong path

"You don't like it, but you're not gonna like it if he's in jail or if he's dead."

TOLEDO, Ohio — Parents are going to great lengths to stop their kids from ending up on the wrong side of the law.

Some call it desperation, while others call it tough love.

But either way, Young Men and Women for Change is teaching kids and their parents' accountability through behavioral modification.

Parents come to Toledo from all around the area. 

All of them are fed up with how their children have been acting. 

And all are ready to do just about anything to help lead them in the right direction. 

It's known as "A Dose of Reality" program.

And if you think it sounds rough, that's because it is rough.

But it's that tough love these parents say their kids need.

"You don't like it, but you're not gonna like it if he's in jail or if he's dead," said Angela Montroy, who is the mother of 15-year-old Dustin. 

About 35 kids filled the gym for this most recent program.

Parents watch as they're led through a strenuous workout. 

All while being reminded they're here because of the choices they've made.

"It kills me as a parent. I feel as if I've done everything right. I've given him things. I've made the right choices. I corrected. And then I just sit there and think to myself 'what have I done wrong?'" said Leslie Swartz, who is the mother of 8-year-old Avery. 

Families come in together on a Friday night.

Parents stay for two hours, learning about accountability.

The kids spend the night, but it's not your typical sleepover.


Posted by MrShawn Mahone Sr. on Friday, April 22, 2022

"They are looking for some type of tough love program. That's going to kinda wake their child up. Hoping that this program will turn them in the right direction," said Shawn Mahone Sr., the founder of Young Men and Women for Change. 

He's been doing this program for 16 years.

And says it's a way to teach kids they are responsible for their own actions.

"Our goal is to help improve the overall physical, social and academic performance. Teaching non-violent conflict management techniques. Ways to decrease substance and alcohol abuse," said Mahone Sr. 

Mahone and his team show the kids what it's like to be arrested.

All while parents watch, giving both that reality check and an opportunity to make changes before it's too late.

"My biggest thing is that I don't want something small now to be something big when he grows up," said Swartz. 

But Mahone strongly believes change can happen when all hands are on deck. 

"The city of Toledo, Toledo police, juvenile court. I think if we all come together and start something like this, I think that it will begin to change the narrative of what's going on in our community because if people know they're going to be held accountable," said Mahone.

He says the response and need for something like this program has prompted him to want to expand. 

So later this year, he plans to take it to other states. 

You can learn more about the process by visiting Young Men and Women for Change. Or you can call 567-277-5352.

Posted by MrShawn Mahone Sr. on Sunday, April 10, 2022


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