‘God has allowed me to turn that pain into purpose’ | Ahmaud Arbery’s mother hopes to help other young Black men and boys with their mental health
Wanda Cooper-Jones said her son struggled with his mental health before being murdered in 2020. She wants to help others through the Ahmaud Arbery Foundation.
ATLANTA — Before being murdered in 2020, Ahmaud Arbery’s mom said her son struggled with his mental health. Now, she’s on a mission to help other young Black men and boys like Ahmaud.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud’s mother, has a memorial room at her home with pictures of her son looking down.
“I still have my bad days,” Cooper-Jones said, adding later, “Ahmaud was love. He was witty. Ahmaud loved to make you laugh.”
The heartbreak is still raw for Cooper-Jones more than three years after her son’s murder.
It turns out Ahmaud was a lot like many of us.
“A lot of you probably didn’t know this when we were going through all the trials and all the press, but Ahmaud was having some mental health challenges. He chose running as his therapy,” Cooper-Jones said.
“I think it’s very important the foundation brings those resources to Black boys. Obviously, boys who look like Ahmaud and are having the same challenges Ahmaud was having,” Cooper-Jones said.
Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while out for a jog more than three years ago. His mom, Wanda Cooper-Jones, started the @AhmaudThe Foundation in his honor. She says plans are in the works to provide mental health services and mentoring to Black boys & men in metro Atlanta@11AliveNewspic.twitter.com/9stPv8X7p2
Ahmaud’s mother said he was known for his smile and generosity, and soon, more young Black men will also get to have a smile on their faces in his honor.
“I’m looking forward to actually pitching the foundation to a local metro Atlanta school district in the area about coming in and giving some resources as far as for mental health, tutoring, and mentoring to some of the guys,” Cooper-Jones said.
Cooper-Jones hopes to kick off the program in a local school district in August and take the boys on a retreat in 2024.
“I lost Ahmaud in a very tragic situation, but God has allowed me to turn that pain into purpose,” Cooper-Jones said. “Ahmaud would be pleased. If Ahmaud met a man with no shirt, he would leave with Ahmaud’s shirt. Ahmaud was a giver.”
Ahmaud’s legacy of giving continues as his mother hopes to make a difference in the lives of young men who look like her son.