Jamal Dar, Production Supervisor at Nike and Executive Director at African Youth and Community Organization
May 29th, 2018
Posted In: Uncategorized
Jamal Dar is a Somali refugee who immigrated to America at the age of 16 and is currently a Production Supervisor at Nike. After high school, he decided to take a year off and then enrolled in college and started a part-time job working at Nike. He came to realize that Nike is the kind of company that “unleashes the potential of a human being,” and has continued to grow at the company over the last 21 years.
Jamal realized one of his true callings was to help mentor other African-born youth and quickly learned that were many immigrants in his community. He wanted to help those who felt that they had no adult mentors outside of their family and he started with a group of young boys in the neighborhood.
He noticed that there was a group of six boys hanging around the neighborhood; it was clear that they had dropped out of school. One day, Jamal approached them and asked if they wanted to play a game of HORSE. At first the boys were apprehensive, they felt that Jamal didn’t belong because he was wearing nicer clothes and a new pair of Jordans. Jamal pulled aside the two “leaders” of the group, and asked them if they wanted some Nike gear. They immediately said yes, so the next day, Jamal returned to the boys with Nike clothing, and they were willing to play basketball now that they trusted Jamal a little more. The remaining four boys wanted to be like the two leaders, so they joined in the game as well, and Jamal had a small team in the neighborhood.
One day, Jamal decided to bring the “team” to the local elementary school gym to practice. As the boys entered, they realized the gym was full of 25 other African immigrant children. Some of the younger kids ran up and asked the boys if they would help them with their homework, but the group of boys felt unequipped since they had dropped out of school themselves. As Jamal saw this, he signed them up for 6 weeks of leadership training, and that was the beginning of recruiting youth for Jamal’s program that later became known as African Youth & Community Organization (AYCO). With Jamal’s mentoring, these six boys completed their leadership training, decided to re-enroll in school, and have all since graduated college.
Jamal knows that mentoring through sports is one tangible way to influence the lives of people in your community. He believes that you need to the “play to their skills and pay it forward.” Keeping youth engaged through sports is a great way to keep them in school as well, because kids will want to stay in school to play on their sports teams.
Jamal believes in the mantra, “You help me succeed today, and I will help someone else succeed tomorrow.”
ABOUT AYCO: Since 2009, African Youth & Community Organization (AYCO) has been serving immigrant refugees in the Portland Metro are. They provide assistance through education, empowerment, independence, and more. AYCO provides mentoring in many different forms; through coaching, tutoring, and one-on-one mentoring with at-risk youth.