Community leaders offer life lessons to Brevard County teens

Afternoon assembly teaches teens proper handshakes, how to tie a tie

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PALM BAY, Fla. – Dozens of community leaders gather every week to teach teens important lessons that help prepare them for their future, including how to give a proper business handshake and tie a necktie.

Glen Outlaw started Tied Together of the Space Coast four years ago as a way to provide teenage boys with positive role models.

Outlaw, a real estate developer, was volunteering at a Cocoa elementary school when the idea came to him.

"I realized a lot of the kids didn't have dads, and being a father of four boys, I said, 'Well, what can I do? What can I teach them?'" Outlaw said. "So, I said, 'I can teach them how to shake hands and tie a tie.'"

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Since then, Outlaw and a rotating group of community leaders have taught more than 11,000 kids the basics of being an adult. 

"These kids get to, kind of, join the club," Outlaw said. "This is kind of that transfer of young men into men."

Outlaw was nominated for the News 6 Getting Results Award by volunteer Lou Moyer.

"Glen genuinely cares about the well-being of these young men," Moyer said. "Once I participated, I fell in love with helping and showing them a good example of what a man should be."

Paul Cannon, an adjunct professor and former Marine, was among dozens of professionals who spent the afternoon at Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay, where 450 kids spent a class period in the school's gym practicing the simple four-in-hand knot. 

Cannon said he sees himself in many of the kids here today.

"I was a very immature prankster and jokester," Cannon said. "But these kids, once they hear your voice and they know you're serious and they know you care, they listen."

Zijay Fletcher followed Cannon's lead and made a perfect necktie.

"It's kind of cool to learn to tie," Fletcher said. "So now I don't have to ask my mom." 

Cannon said many of the boys he meets are desperate for a positive male role model.

"It's a way for me to mentor and kind of spiritually adopt these kids," Cannon said. "They don't have male figures, and so today, having a conglomerate of male figures who are there just to give them some time, it's almost foreign to some of them."  

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Outlaw starts the program explaining the history and importance of a formal handshake.

"I know several businessmen who have hired or not hired people based on a handshake," Outlaw said. "That first 10 seconds opens the door or closes it for you."

Before leaving, every boy is given his own tie in school colors. Outlaw estimates he will have given away 12,000 ties over four years by the end of this season.  

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