GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There is a time in the lives of most young people, when they choose a path in life.

A new program launched in Grand Rapids Thursday focuses on getting young black men to choose the right path.

Ottawa Hills High School freshmen Tjon Pearson and Amon Sanders’ plans for the future are not much different than any other freshmen in any other high school.

“I talk about being an actor,” Pearson said.

“I talk about being an engineer,” Sanders said.

Both have supportive families, teachers and other adults in their lives. Their chances of making it are more realistic.

But the realities of growing up in the inner city hamper the dreams of many other Grand Rapids Public School freshmen.

The goal of the first-ever African American Male Achievement Conference is to up the odds of success for the class of 2019.

Did any of that click in their minds?

“Yeah, about the murders and about making bad decisions,” said Sanders.

The program gathers successful African American men from the community not just to warn the “sons” of the community, as they are referred to, of the dangers but more importantly to show examples of the success they can achieve.

Studies show freshmen year is the point in their lives when most of these young men will make the decisions that will determine the path they take in life.

“Really beginning to develop as sense of their future — what their options are. Whether their opportunities are limited or unlimited,” Grand Rapids Urban League president Joe Jones said.

The Urban League along with GRPS, Grand Rapids Community College and Alpha Beta Omega Leadership Development Program at GRCC co-sponsored the event.

“When they see examples of success that look like them that can really begin to again turn that switch on, so that they can see that you know, there is more to life than perhaps what they see around them,” Jones said.

The other hope is that some of the young men become mentors themselves in the future.