Think Like a Leader, Not a Follower (TLALNAF) is a gang prevention, anti-bullying and self-esteem education program based on the story of Frank and Joe, two boys who grow up in the same neighborhood but one becomes a gang member and the other a responsible citizen.

The mission of the program is to strengthen families, build communities and keep kids out of gangs by interactive storytelling projects that will engage students in the subject matter, prompt questions, add humor and re-enforce the need for personal responsibility.

There are more than 1,400 criminal street gangs operating in Los Angeles County with more than 150,000 members. While not all gang members are involved in violent crimes or sell drugs, they are all at high-risk of engagement in gang-related criminal activities that can lead to school dropout and dysfunction in traditional social settings, said Williams.

The goal is to minimize the appeal of gangs to youngsters who do not have strong family and community support systems by providing models of critical thinking that engage children, parents and teachers in a dialogue.

Founder Curtis Williams has received support from Councilwoman Janice Hahn with the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the San Diego County and Los Angeles County departments of probation and the Inglewood Unified School District.

“LAUSD has showed interest in making the book part of the curriculum, and the California Department of Education has already given me the green light to market this book and the program throughout the district,” said Williams who recalls always having a passion for writing, but who decided to write this book because of his own personal loss.

Williams’ brother was killed due to gang violence, and the author has now dedicated his life to educating young inner-city youth about the choices they can make to direct their lives in a positive direction.

“My brother was killed in 2002. Gangs broke into his home and robbed him and killed him, and that was when I realized I had to put a monkey wrench in gang violence,” said Williams, who has already gone into a number of different schools including Raymond Elementary and Dorsey High School to push his anti-bullying campaign.

“The book is meant to make a change in our schools and communities. If we don’t reach youth while they are young, they are contaminated by older kids and intervention becomes harder . . . because they have less of an open mind,” explained Williams.

A solution to the bullying that Williams is passionate about making work is the “Secret Bully Box.” What he proposes is that students are able to anonymously report bully/gang activity on their school’s website which would enable authorities, parents, staff, etc. to interject and possibly save lives before its too late.

“With Proposition 8 in 1982 and the Victim’s Rights Bill, it stated that all schools should be safe and secure for students and staff, but the schools aren’t really living up to that,” complained Williams, who said that school administrators today seem to be more concerned with keeping their jobs, than ensuring the safety of students.

For more information on the Think Like a Leader Not a Follower program, visit the organizations website at www.thinklikealeadernotafollower.com. On the website you can purchase the book as well as make donations to the organization which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.