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"I Will" Mentorship program uses tech to empower teens

Posted: 7:22 AM, Jan 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-29 19:32:58Z
Mentorship program focuses on positive choices
Mentorship program focuses on positive choices
Mentorship program focuses on positive choices

After school and on the weekends a colorful, multi-room facility is giving at-risk students a glimpse into a future in STEM. 

As one student worked on a prototype for an adolescent hand prosthesis, two others began laying out the 3D-printed parts of their own "hand."

"I'm working on the DIY Barbie myoelectric hand," said Makayla, a Lee Co. high school student. She is one of many students who joined the "I Will" Mentorship Foundation in Fort Myers. The center which is located at 3903 Dr. MLK Blvd, Jr. has been around for 2.5 years. 

The founder of the organization, Dr. Jesse Bryson, is a veteran who served assignments at the White House under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He's also a native of the underserved community he hopes to help with his foundation.

He believes the innovative curriculum he has created will help students find careers paths they can succeed in. 

"Science, technology, engineering, [math] and we included agriculture. Some people think the A is for Arts but it's actually for agriculture. Agriculture is a very lucrative business," said Dr. Bryson.

The "I Will" mentorship foundation offers different learning opportunities through a number of programs related to STEM-fields, including, robotics, imagine 3D printing and video game design. 

The foundation is the first after-school "STEAM" resource center in Lee County, but it's not limited to Lee County residents. Students and young adults from neighboring counties may also register for the program, however, they must be able to provide their own transportation. 

The "I Will" mentorship foundation meets after school every day at the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center on MLK Boulevard.

For more information on how to volunteer, be a mentor, or how to get your child into the program, go to www.iwmf2.org .