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US Navy Seals Take MAN UP Youth To New Heights

November 4, 2022

Conquering Fears One Obstacle At A Time


By:  JaTika Hudson

In the sweltering heat of a summer day in Florida, the young men of MAN UP Mentoring, Inc. rose to the challenges presented by the nation’s elite members of the US Navy Seals. In what seemed like impossible obstacle courses, the mentees stared down personal challenges as they ziplined, climbed rope courses at unbelievable heights and defeated them all as a team.


12-year-old, Emil Allen shared how much he enjoyed each activity and was able to conquer his fear of heights by ziplining so far from the safety of the ground. His mother, Ashley Woods expressed immense pride in her son and the maturity and heights he’s accomplished since joining the group.


“This is the longest program he’s stuck with,” she recalls. “Every time he gets [home], he tells me things about what they did.” She’s noticed a significant difference in his ability to handle his anger and emotions and she’s grateful for the attention and advice he’s getting from the MAN UP mentors and the time they’re taking to guide him.


The members of the Navy Seals demonstrated and taught the young men ways to develop leadership skills and work together as a team. They told them, “Don’t allow your circumstances and environment to define you, it’s up to you to decide a different path for yourself.” The crux of the lessons shared centered around mental toughness, perseverance, and teamwork--- getting up when you’re knocked down, never quitting no matter how difficult the course you’re on, staying focused, lifting each other up, and working as a cohesive team.


Woods shared her appreciation for the Navy Seals guiding the boys through the different courses because it helped her son face other life obstacles that he needed to overcome, mentally and emotionally, to get to a place of pride and increased self-esteem. “It was important to me because it challenged him. He didn’t think that he could do it and he was so proud of himself when he came home,” she said.


The eventful day included a laundry list of activities that empowered the young men to face their fears and boost their confidence. They learned that, just like life, there will be moments where fear and doubt will arise but leaning into those feelings is breeding ground for giving up. Not moving forward in life and through difficult situations is not an option and moving as a team, when available, is powerful.


The exhausting, yet exuberating, day of life lessons left them encouraged, excited and confident in what they had achieved and conquered with each obstacle they faced.



MAN UP Mentoring, Inc. is community-based non-profit 501c (3) charity organization primarily serving at-risk youth ages 11 through completion of high school or the equivalent across Metro Orlando, with a focus on delinquency prevention and intervention by providing social, educational, and mentoring services. Established in 2014 by Orlando natives, brother and sister duo Christopher and Samantha Wallace. Currently, it is managed by a full-time staff of volunteers and is overseen by a Board of Directors with more than 150 years of law enforcement and civilian experience, as well as advisors from the Orange County Public School System and social workers

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