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Our Youth Are “Precious”

December 23, 2009

Author: Terri Lee Freeman

Recently, I went to see the movie “Precious,” a sobering tale of the life trials of an abused, urban 16-year old girl. While the story is extreme, elements of the movie are reality for far too many young people in our region.

Without going into the graphic nature of the movie, suffice it to say, no child should grow up in circumstances that are devoid of love, hope, and aspirations. A child should not have to steal to eat. Children should not fear walking to and from school. And the classroom should not be a place where young people are “kept” for 6 hours a day, but rather a place for serious learning and intellectual debate. Children should be children and not parents, and home should be a safe haven, not a nightmare.

Ultimately, parents must be responsible for their children, but the sad fact is that many parents are ill-equipped to provide the nurturing environment a child needs. Generations of dysfunction are often difficult to erase, but not impossible to break — and that’s why nonprofit programs such as Healthy Families America are so important. Healthy Families America recognizes that some children are at-risk for abuse before they are even born. The organization identifies these at-risk moms, helps them get proper pre-natal care and then works with the parent(s) until the child is five years old.

Another group, DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, seeks to involve young people in being the solution to the problem of teen pregnancy and not simply see them as the problem. Through tools such as teen town hall meetings, they bring to the forefront the real issues facing our young people on a daily basis. And, organizations like Men Can Stop Rape mobilize male youth to prevent men’s violence against women. These programs and organizations save lives and, I’d venture to say, they save generations. They provide important nurturing for young people and positive alternatives to much of the negative they see all too often. These programs and organizations become the connective tissue to normalcy for many of our youth.

Our young people are too precious to be allowed to lose their hopes and dreams. We need every young mind to be vibrant and full of possibility regardless of their zip code or socioeconomic status. So, as this year draws to a close and you begin to think of the new beginnings of the coming year, ask yourself how you might help foster the dreams of a young person and help their 2010 be better than their 2009. After all, we all are still works in progress.

P.S.: Join our Facebook “Neighbors in Need” page at http://facebook.com/neighborsinneed.

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