Opening the doors for our Youth

I read a great article by Cary Clack in the MySA Life section of the Express News today. Cary Clack spent a day with various groups of sophomores at Sam Houston high school. The negative perception that these teenagers felt they had from the outside was disheartening.

The two most frequent responses were, “low performing” and “ghetto” as in “that it’s a ghetto school.” Other responses included, “that we’re all thugs,” “we’re not going to amount to anything” and “we’re poor.”

Clack goes onto say that some blame the school for providing them with this negative image due to bad academic performances that have been highlighted in the media. However, most of these students believe that they do possess a power within themselves to do something positive to change their image. But they need someone to listen. It’s not only the responsibility of their parents and teachers but it’s also a responsibility of the community. This is so important to recognize.

Many times our youth don’t see the doors of opportunity. They might come from a broken home, parents work too much, or maybe they don’t even have a place called home. How can they reach for the stars if they can’t see the stars? We can’t always leave it up to teachers either. We know they are overworked and underpaid. It’s our (the community’s) responsibility as well.

My uncle is a basketball coach at Jefferson High School. He has been coaching there for almost 20 years. One tradition that he does every year (and has done so for the past few years) is enter his team into a basketball tournament in the Washington DC area. He holds fundraisers to cover the accomodation and transportaion costs. He takes them not because of basketball, but to show them our nation’s capitol. Many of these kids have never been outside of San Antonio or even stayed in a hotel before. They are given this golden opportunity to see something real, not just in the paper or on the radio. We can continue to say oh yes, you can be a lawyer, doctor, politician but when they see these opportunities visually, it becomes more real for them. It gives them that hope that we want our youth to embrace.

Did you see President Obama’s address yesterday? At the very end of his speech, he recognized a very special girl, Ty’Sheoma Bethea. Bethea is a young girl from a school in South Carolina that President Obama went to visit.

a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless

She took it upon herself to go to the public library and write a letter to the White House and even asked her teacher to pay for the stamp.

“We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world.  We are not quitters.”

President Obama invited her to the capitol to sit in on his address. I saw this girl sitting right next to First Lady Michelle Obama. What a strong, courageous girl. It’s one thing to get our youth to speak up, another thing to get people to listen and yet another to get people to act upon it.

The last portion of Clack’s article mentions that Sam Houston High School will be receiving love from the God Parents Youth Organization (G.Y.O.). This organization was started by a Los Angeles school bus driver, Tanya Walters, in 2005.

She realized that she and her fellow drivers had formed bonds with the teenagers that they drove to and from school every day, and that they could be used to change lives. The route they have driven since starting G.Y.O. has covered thousands of miles and opened hundreds of young eyes to a world that exists beyond some of the toughest streets of Los Angeles. A world many of these kids never new existed. A world many of them never dreamed of seeing.

This program sponsors children that are in schools that are suffering, such as Sam Houston High School, and takes them to places that they never dreamed of ever going: Historical landmarks, college campuses, museums and memorials. Again, it’s giving our youth something tangible to see so their hopes become real.

As I write this, I think about what can I do? I am always intrigued to help our youth, teach them, inspire them. It’s a matter of finding the time and the right organization. I have officially signed up with Junior Achievement and will be teaching middle school students the fundamentals of starting their own business. I can’t wait! I did Junior Achievement 3 years ago and I had such a blast. Our youth can also inspire you.

I will keep you posted on my experiences.

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