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Monday, July 1, 2013

Help Our Youth Build Their Dreams

Major social issues, by their very nature, become inextricably tied to the human, social, and political climate of their time. As a challenge captures the attention and concern of the public, and we struggle to respond, the challenge becomes the focal point against which other needs are assessed. It is times like this when objectives become confused and temptations of a quick fix are quite compelling. These are the times that demand the very best from us.

Among our current social issues, how to best deal with the four social epidemics plaguing our youth present many competing perspectives. Educational failure, teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse and joining “gangs” have remained at epidemic levels for almost five decades.

For these past five decades, the federal and state governments have spent a combined one half trillion dollars to try and solve these problems. Sadly, they have done so with very little effect. The bulk of these efforts have been to talk to kids, to give them pamphlets and to preach overly simplistic slogans like “Just say no.”
All current research from successful mentoring programs underscores the truth that nothing short of being involved with our children can really support healthy youth development. The evolution of this wisdom informs our work and has now resulted in the content for our particular involvement with kids by helping to give them the structure to build their own Lifeplan.

A natural aspect of a teenager’s personality is to be a bit self-centered. Thus, if it’s about them they will be motivated. If not, they may be bored to death. Well, Lifeplan is all about them. Eliciting their dreams, helping them build a plan to achieve those dreams, and guiding them to recruit a board of directors who will help them be successful. Most important, the process of building their individual Lifeplan gives each of them a strong voice in expressing their dreams, often for the very first time.

So as we celebrate this July the very birth of our nation, I invite you to ponder the celebration of giving every young person access to the birth of their own Lifeplan and thus help them on the way to realize their own particular hopes and dreams.


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