Rise Up Young People! By Wendy M. Reynolds, MS/P http://wendym.wordpress.com http://twitter.com/wendymreynolds Meet Marcos Travis Gooden, a young man graduating from Lane College in Tennessee (Class of 2012). Not only is He on the Dean's list, but he is also the highest ranking senior in his class! He has already been accepted into law school. What an amazing young man! What an awesome accomplishment. We celebrate him not just because of what he has done but because of who he is! Incredible. Talented. Courageous. He is a young man making good choices- making his mark on the world. He is front page news. However, every day we turn on the TV or pick up the newspaper and learn of another negative story surrounding our young people. We as a society have become desensitized. No longer is it shocking when a youth robs or shoots someone. We’ve come to expect it. It doesn’t bother us as much when the media or music videos depict our youth as violent gangsters or as degraded young men and women so quick to give themselves away for money, fame, or tainted love. These are the images that we see every day. These are the images of young people presented to our young people usually by people, companies, and organizations seeking to profit or further a hidden agenda. But I want it to be known that there are youth doing good things every day. Rarely do you hear their stories on the evening news. They don’t make the front page. They are usually not the topic of TV shows, movies, or videos. Why not? Maybe if we start highlighting them, other youth will come to raise their standards, value education, and understand that they have options and choices. Revealing more stories like Marcos will give another image, as well as challenge the perceptions and low expectations that we often have. Where is his news coverage? Mr. Marcos Gooden
If we start highlighting positive stories involving young people, maybe we as adults will begin to regain an understanding of how powerful a message we send when we invest our time, our finances, our prayers, and our beliefs in a young person. Maybe our government and our educational systems will regain vision and see the value in providing all youth with the best education, a positive environment in which to learn in, and programs designed to propel them as opposed to imprisoning them. Maybe we will become outraged that the national high school graduation rate is at an all-time low while high school drop-out rates are soaring. Maybe we as parents, caregivers, teachers … will begin to value our kids again and increase our expectations of them. It’s so hard for a child to rise to low expectations Let’s highlight the Latrese W’s (last name not published by her request) who grew up in a home where both parents struggled with addictions and crime. At the age of 10 she was placed in a foster homes and after that three more. An 8th grade teacher believed in her and challenged her to believe in herself in spite of her obstacles. For the first time she felt separated from her outward conditions. She just finished her 2nd year of college with a 3.2 GPA. Although the opportunity presented itself, she has never been in trouble. She volunteers with a youth mentor program teaching other young women how to define and value themselves. Give her some news coverage.