Inspiring youth to create their ‘New I.M.A.G.E.’

Bro. John Muhammad


BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – The Community Development and Training Center, Inc. (CDAT) has been reaching out to St. Pete youth to help them find and design their path to success through the “New I.M.A.G.E” project, the cornerstone of CDAT’s 2018 MLK Day of Service project.

Jabaar Edmond

Jabaar Edmond

CDAT’s director, community leader and activist Bro. John Muhammad said the New I.M.A.G.E. project came out of the work he and CDAT Vice President Jabaar Edmond and others had been doing before formally organizing the CDAT Center in 2014.

While working on the Stop the Violence Coalition in 2012, Muhammad realized that people have identified many different culprits for violence in our country. Some blame it on music lyrics, television or even the educational system.

“So, we thought, OK, how can we promote a positive image and redefine what’s cool because right now it’s cool to sag your pants, it’s cool to be a thug and be uneducated. We take pride in those things.”

The idea for the New I.M.A.G.E. project — I.M.A.G.E. is an acronym for information, media, arts, graphics and entertainment – is to use it as a vehicle to engage young people, and not-so-young-people, around the idea that it’s actually cool to do community service.

“What we used to do ain’t cool no more, now it’s cool to be smart. Smart is the new gangsta.’”

CDAT’s Day of Service project began last Saturday with a training session conducted by Edmond on basic communication skills and how to facilitate a conversation. Seven students from Lakewood High School’s journalism department and eight youths from the community, along with their parents, learned how to conduct interviews and basic filmmaking.

On Monday, this next generation of leaders will document other Day of Service projects around town with the skills they learned from the training session.

The goal of CDAT’s project is to highlight the positives of what’s going on in our community and to show people in action. Once the interviews are conducted, the participants will take the footage and compile it into a 15 or 20-minute video highlighting many of the groups involved in the Day of Service event.

Muhammad points to the work of CDAT’s Leaderz of the New School, a project with a mission to show more positive images of black youth leaders while displaying new community leadership with vision and passion. Using the hashtag #SmartIsTheNewGangsta, a collection of community leaders and activists are utilizing a variety of techniques, including videos and social media, to inform and encourage youth to reclaim their unique style, attitude, find their path to success and community involvement.

“The first part of changing your story is changing the image that you present,” said Muhammad.

For more information on how to get you can get involved with or support CDAT, the New I.M.A.G.E. Project, or Leaderz of the New School, call Bro. John Muhammad at (727) 492- 4776 or email or visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top