What is the value of a positive, caring male role model for a teenage boy? Just ask Terrence Bowen. Growing up in his South Memphis neighborhood, where “violence is everywhere” and “nothing but the worst happens,” Terrence didn’t have a lot of stability. His mom worked hard but struggled with the challenges of raising her son in a difficult neighborhood, and he didn’t even meet his dad until he was 11 or 12 years old. Between moving to different houses and apartments and getting expelled several times for behavioral issues, Terrence went to at least half a dozen different schools throughout Memphis. When he was 16, his mom discovered stolen electronics and other items in his bedroom, and didn’t know what else to do for her son but call the police. In Juvenile Court, Terrence was accepted into the Juvenile Intervention & Faith-based Follow-up (JIFF) program, which seeks to provide mentoring and other support for youths who need redirection. Terrence explains how he found structure, motivation, and a passion for cooking through JIFF. In this short film, we also meet Grady Turner, Terrence’s mentor, who shows us that Terrence, and many other kids just like him, just needed a positive, encouraging male mentor — someone who really believed in him, someone who knew that he was a good kid who could do great things — to help him get on a more productive path. Now, Terrence is working to become the first man in his family to earn a high school diploma while embarking on a promising career in the kitchen.

Interested in more? Check out suggested discussion questions for this film, recommended reading, and other resources for educators.