BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Fifty young men in Baton Rouge got an experience that they’ve never had before. They traveled across the country, immersing themselves in new cultures and different ways of life.

The 100 Black Men said many of the youth who went on the trip have never left the city. Through the Project Excel Mentorship Program, they were able to learn and explore avenues that seemed impossible before.

“One of the beauties about this trip, a lot of these kids never left Baton Rouge before, going on a trip or any type of other occasion. So the first time when they left, they were kind of nervous and their moms were kind of nervous because the kids have never been out of town before,” chaperone Anthony Kenney said.

Much of the trip was sponsored by community members and the Project Excel Mentorship Program. This was something 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge’s president was adamant about. He wanted as many of them to be able to take this trip.

“It’s to enlighten, enrich and enhance the lives of young African American Black males all across our community,” said 100 Black Men Executive Director Dadrius Lanus.

Lanus said they hopped on a bus and traveled to the country’s capital, making pit stops in Tennessee and Georgia.

“We learned a lot about the history of the civil rights movement and the things and the struggles that our people had to go through and endure just for us to have the simple luxuries that we have today,” said Lanus. “And from there, we went to the I Am a Man Plaza. We also went to the Meharry and Fisk Universities and Medical College because we just wanted to show them also what a black experience is on a higher institutional level… and from there, we went to Washington, D.C.”

Anthony Kenney, a chaperone on the trip, said it was incredible to see their eyes light up.

“Just to show that there’s still this young Black males potential in this community that wants to do well and just is willing to do it,” stated Kenney. “They might not come from the best home and best neighborhood situations, but, you know, they just need organizations like 100 Black Men with programs like Project Excel.”

They stopped to visit major landmarks and even got a special visit from some of our U.S. congressmen.

“They were sponges soaking up all the information they had so they got the opportunity to have in-depth conversations and ask questions to our U.S. congressmen,” said Lanus.

This trip was life changing to many who found it hard to look outside of their current circumstances.

“Showing them new and brighter horizons, giving them a reason to want to be successful in life and change their lives for the better,” he said.

“Overall it was like a boy-to-man experience and they were able to learn from us and we went to places we were able to teach them about etiquettes when we’re out eating at restaurants,” added Kenney.

Lanus believes experiences like this will pay back tenfold.

“It’s about taking one by the hand, bringing them along so they can grab someone else by the hand and bring them along. It’s a chain reaction,” he said.

They said this is the first trip of many. If you would like to donate or sponsor the next, click here.