Local leader empowers high-risk youth through NCAA tournament

KANSAS CITY, MO - Tyrone Flowers waited to take five Kansas City teens on Thursday afternoon to a part of town they rarely see.  Thursday's field trip: A journey downtown to the Sprint Center to see the University of Kansas practice for the NCAA tournament.

"One thing I like about bringing kids to any college event is it's associated with education, and you can find different ways to present that to them," Flower said. "One of the things we'll do is we'll go back and talk about every school that's in this tournament."

These are valuable lessons, even for the non-basketball fan like 14-year old Morgan Peterson. He said he doesn't like basketball, but he's grateful to be at the Sprint Center with Flowers.

"It's a good experience. A lot of kids don't get to have the experiences that I get to enjoy," said Peterson.

Flowers said he intentionally pushes teens outside of their comfort zone.

"I want to teach them how to operate and function in different environments, and sometimes I deliberately take them to things that they don't like or find boring and teach them how to be respectfully bored," he said.

Tyrone Flowers is the founder and CEO of Higher M-Pact, a non-profit organization in Kansas City. Their mission is to transform high-risk urban youth into future leaders. 

"Basically we look for opportunities to bring some of the youth that we work with to different events just to expose them to things that they may not know exist. And I don't care how big or how small it is, to them it's an experience," he said.

In 1988 Flowers was the starting point guard for Central High School. His teammate nearly took his life after a dispute on the basketball court.

"I got shot three times my senior year, two weeks before graduating from high school, which put me in a wheelchair." 

Flowers said his chair is just another obstacle in life, similar to the challenges that the teens he mentors face. He encourages them to value and cherish every opportunity.

"I never thought that I would get the experience like this, but now that I do have the experience, it's fun, and I'm going to make it last because this might be the last time I get to do stuff like this," said Peterson

While Tyrone may no longer be able to walk, the love for the game of basketball still pumps through his veins. He is able to help empower area youth through his hope.

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