I remember facilitating a Rites of Passage program in Washington, DC that was geared to boys between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. The boys who participated in this program were of a mixed group. Some were on probation from the juvenile justice system. Some were members of gangs such as the Bloods, Crips, and MS-13’s. And some were labeled by school administrators as lazy, delinquent, and unteachable. No matter what they were labelled as, it was my responsibility to invest good into them. Even though family and friends wrote many of them off, there was still hope of turning their lives around.earn More
Anyone who works in social services will testify that the work is hard and tiresome, but it can be rewarding to realize that you’re making a difference in someone’s life. Let’s face it for a moment – there are some outstanding social workers as well as social service programs doing everything they can in making a difference in the lives of so many children. All too often, they are overlooked and fail to receive the support and recognition they deserve.
It’s important to note that children of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities are precious. No matter how far off track a child may go, we must remember they are our hope and future. Without investing in them from an early age, we will allow that which is harmful and hindering to their growth to raise them.
Investing in our children is a daily process. What’s so disappointing from many people who subscribe to the Christian right is that they adhere to protecting the life of an unborn child but fail to address the care, need, and support of the child after he/she is born. I need to emphasis that I’m not arguing for or against abortion, what I’m simply saying is that we have a responsibility to invest in our children no matter how old they are.
Investing in them means we must teach them who they are as human beings. Let me say it this way. We have to teach them about the importance of living a fulfilled life. Fulfillment doesn’t come by joining a gang. Neither does fulfillment come with living beneath one’s potential. Rather, fulfillment is being everything that the Creator created them to be.
As I mentioned, I was able to work with kids from diverse backgrounds and through Rites of Passage programs just to name a few, children are able to learn about their history, gain respect for their elders, and learn how to make appropriate decisions that will keep them out of trouble.
Here’s a few things to consider:
- Parents must involve their children in extracurricular activities that will stimulate their mind, body, and spirit. It’s through this stimulation that children will gain exposure and see themselves doing things that only the mind can conceive.
- In addition to parents investing in their children, local businesses should invest in our youth by hiring and training them for apprenticeships and/or internships. As children gain hands-on experience in the workforce, they not only pick up skills and experience, but they learn the value of hard work and discipline.
- Mentors must be sought out to help. Mentorship should never been done to recoup some kind of financial reimbursement; it’s a matter of opening doors and providing opportunities for those who need it. Investing in our youth will pay huge dividends in the long run. I’m of the belief that if the African-American community comes together locally and nationally to invest in our youth, the school-to-prison pipeline will decrease, black-on-black crime will diminish, and children growing up in single parent households will lessen.
Let me conclude with this. Nothing is impossible. We can do this, if we work together. No time for hating; it’s time for participating.
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is a speaker, business trainer, writer, and success coach. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @drsinclairgrey