Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pants On The Ground

Who can avoid all the recent news headlines…”Kids killing kids….kids killing parents….teen domestic violence…gang attacks in broad daylight.” With news like this, one can honestly begin to question whether there’s something in the water.

Just today I spent time with a 5th grader who was brought to me (unwillingly) by an Assistant Principal. Although dressed in the school’s mandatory uniform, his pants were a good two sizes too big, and hung a bit lower than necessary. But that pales in comparison to the fact that his short sleeves exposed his self-made tattoos. “The God in Me,” “Get At Her,” and a picture of a sword were some of the things he had drawn with a black sharpie. In addition, there was the acronym “YMC” scrawled in the middle of various symbols. I couldn’t confirm whether it is an actual gang, or for what it stood…but I can only assume. I dug deeper into this student’s background to learn that he comes for an upper middle class upbringing, with educated parents. However, his behavior at school leaves a lot to be desired. To put it bluntly…he’s a wanna’ be thug, and although handsome, his behaviors make him less than adorable!

It’s not easy working with kids like him, and it sometimes seems that the more you try…the harder they push you away. But you know what frustrates me even more?...When people give up on kids like him. You know the ones I’m talking about… the fowl mouth having, eye rolling, teeth sucking, class cutting, weed smoking, fight provoking, droopy pants wearing, and sometimes gun toting kids. Why? Because I have learned over the years that underneath the hard and often thuggish exterior is typically an emotionally wounded child.  Just because they are on a wrong path does not mean that they have to stay on that road.  Sometimes all it takes is for someone to care enough to mentor them.



My good friend, Jovan Roseboro is an example of how a child can go from one side of the law to the other! As an adolescent, Jovan struggled with many of the same issues that we have read in the headlines. Although innately intelligent, with a gift for written expression, Jovan began selling drugs. Luckily, Jovan was able to avoid becoming a statstic. He's now a motivational speaker, accomplished writer, business owner, and mentor to  many at risk youths. In fact he is on a mission to impact the lives of children whose life path mirror his. 

Jovan recently channeled his personal experiences and created  a tool for parents, educators, and agencies to use to reach the kids that are hardest to reach…like my self-tatting student. It's called the Playing Your Cards Program, and it has already received considerable accolades from many prestigious professionals around the country.  I was honored when Jovan asked me to create a therapeutic curriculum to go along with the motivational system.:)

There are so many ways to make an impact with kids.  It could be that you forge meaningful relationships with kids in your neighborhood, or with your children's friends.  Whether you are a Jovan Roseboro who actively goes out each day and speaks to crowds of people about ways to remedy some of the social problems we see, or if you are someone who has a few hours a month to spend mentoring kids....we can all do something.  Let's all just stop talking about it and BE ABOUT IT.  This generation deserves it!

Happy Parenting....AND MENTORING;),

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families

4 comments:

  1. AMAZING ARTICLE GAETANE. YOU PLAY A VITAL ROLE IN THE LIVES OF CHILDREN EACH DAY, AND IT IS AN HONOR TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH YOU ON "PLAYING YOUR CARDS." IT WILL CHANGE THE LIVES OF CHILDREN FOR MANY YEARS. THANK YOU FOR MAKING AN IMPACT IN THE LIVES OF MANY CHILDREN OVER THE YEARS. THANK YOU FOR MAKING AN IMPACT ON ME. LOVE YOU

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  2. I think mentoring can really help at-risk youths recover from their troubled behaviors.

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  4. Mentors make a difference everyday in the life of an at-risk youth.. I am grateful for all our mentors and the work they do with our at-risk youths.

    The term "at-risk" is generally used to describe youth who come from single-parent homes, who show signs of emotional or behavioral problems, and who lack the support to navigate developmental tasks successfully.

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