There are tons of people out there who have a very slow motivational metabolism, making it difficult for them to grab the bull by the horns and move forward to a better place in life. Many try but ultimately fail because they don’t have their favorite motivational carrot dangling in front of them. For those helped by Creating Young Minds, basketball is a perfect carrot.
CYM is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2011 in Lake Dallas by Mathis Ackerman who serves as CYM’s President and director of Player Development and Charley Brown, Director of Program Development & Finance. Mathis’s wife, Shira Ackerman, is CYM’s CEO and Secretary.
“To put it all together, we used basketball as our carrot. That’s our carrot, and it works wonderfully,” Shira said.
“We’re raising funds now to build our new, main facility in Corinth,” Shira said. “We also have a duplex for our out-of-state young men to call home. All the locations are within one mile of each other.”
CYM targets young men who grew up poor in a bad neighborhood. They didn’t have the same opportunities as the guys in better areas, and there was certainly no way for them to hope for access to college.
Mathis was helping young men get scholarships while he was still in his 20s. “I had a talented kid, but no college offers,” he said. “I was so committed to him that I called more than 100 schools. I finally got him accepted. That’s when I met Shira. She was excited about what I was doing and wanted to join in.” She joined CYM and married Mathis, and together they had a daughter.
“The CYM program is about preventing problems more than fixing them after they happen,” Mathis said. “Of course, if they do come to us with pre-existing complications, they are addressed immediately. That approach is so much easier and saves tons of time and effort. I grew up poor in a bad neighborhood. I knew all too well how those situations usually turn out.”
But Mathis was lucky. “I had a coach who kept me out of trouble, and I had a natural talent for basketball. I went to college, and God led me to great love and compassion.”
The suicide rate among young men is high. “I feel that’s because they’re weak,” Mathis said. “Most of them don’t talk. There’s very little positive substance in their lives. Schools have million-dollar-plus football stadiums. We want to see these kids as productive. We have memberships to L.A. Fitness, and they use them. We also have once-a-week access to Lake Dallas Gym.”
Today’s younger generation faces different and more complex challenges than their parents and grandparents ever experienced.
“We want our guys to be strong, to be businesspeople and entrepreneurs. We want to teach them to give and not to just take from society,” Mathis said.
“We consistently tell them we don’t expect anyone to accept something we say just because we said it,” Mathis said. Instead, they are encouraged to do their own investigations and research. “Figure things out on your own. We also want them to learn how to effectively use technology, and how to be supportive of friends who use social media for positive good.”
Over the last five years, more than 50 young men have moved on to professional basketball teams. They’re also encouraged by CYM to build their own businesses while their names are known.
The third member of the core CYM team is Charley Brown, Director of Program Development & Finance. He is a co-founder of CYM. There is also a dedicated Board of Directors for CYM.