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Obomanu talks to juveniles

Selma native and current Seattle Seahawk wide receiver Ben Obomanu talked with juveniles at the Perry Varner Educational and Treatment Facility in Selma Tuesday. -- Robert Hudson

When Selma native and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ben Obomanu arrived at the Perry Varner Educational and Treatment Facility on Tuesday, he brought with him a message of encouragement to the youth in attendance.

Perry Varner Educational and Treatment Facility serves individuals 12-17 years of age, a lot of which are referred by the juvenile court, and aims to educate and instill discipline, and participates in community service throughout the county.

Obomanu delivered a message that all are capable of living out a positive life.

“The first thing is to let them know that we still care,” Obomanu said. “As a professional athlete being from Selma, I’ve always taken pride in the fact that not only do I want people to hear about Ben Obomanu, I want kids to see Ben Obomanu the person and know that I’m from Selma and I still come back, and to be able to give them some encouragement that the same situation and circumstances they’re growing up in are the same circumstances I grew up in Selma and I was still able to make it, and they can, too.”

Obomanu told those in attendance that positive choices include those you choose to hang out with, and to associate with people who push you to do good in life.

He added his friends pushed him academically, as he has added his master’s degree to the bachelor’s degree he earned from Auburn in just three years.

Obomanu said his goal was to encourage the youth.

“Just to encourage these kids in particular to not make those choices and decisions that will lead them to a past that they can’t recover from,” Obomanu said. “To be able to help them be strong and productive citizens and be able to be black men that can go out and accomplish all things that they set out to accomplish before it’s too late as a young kid.”

Obomanu said it’s important to make good decisions because those choices follow you for the rest of your life, adding that they should pursue positive careers because the children of Selma are capable of great things.

“Your path might not be the same as mine, but just make sure it’s the right path,” Obomanu told the attendees.

Ocie Acoff, executive director of Perry Varner Educational and Treatment Facility, said it’s good for the young men to see someone who has made it from the same surroundings as them.

“We have these young men that are considered high-risk individuals and it’s good to have somebody that came from the same walk of life, the same community, the same city that they’re presently in, who has went on and got his education and did well in his life,” Acoff said. “It gives them an opportunity to realize that they can do something positive with their lives also.”