Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Future Investments

There's been a lot of hoopla over the past several days about the passing of Whitney Houston. I'm not really a celebrity watcher but you can't turn on the radio or watch a news program without hearing her music. She was kind of a big deal with extraordinary talent and its sad that all that her talent was swallowed up by industry pressure and bad life style choices.

At any rate, yesterday I caught the tale end of her song Greatest Love of All and this morning, while meeting with the superintendent of our local school division, those lyrics kept scrolling through my head.

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be


This morning we met to discuss certain initiatives that are happening within our school division and the impact they could have on the middle school in particular. We discussed the school culture, staff involvement in extra curriculars and inspiring the desire for change and growth within our school communities. I was so impressed by his creative thinking and passion for our schools and community.
It has become so cliche to say that children are our future but seriously, they are. The kids you see walking down your streets, hanging out in your malls and filling your classrooms are the executives, professionals, tradespeople, workers and criminals of our future. These same skateboarding, saggy pant wearing teens that loiter at 7-11 are going to be your doctors or drug dealers, teachers or career criminals, productive members of the community or drains on society. 
So what will make the difference? What will help to determine who and what they will become?
You. You will make the difference ... if you want to.
If you know a kid you have the opportunity to make a difference on a global scale. If you take the time to talk to a kid, inspire a kid, empower a kid you have impacted eternity. Seriously. I'm not being grandiose or dramatic, I'm just telling it like it is.
Kids are sponges. They are constantly taking in information, interpreting it and reacting and readjusting accordingly. They watch us, learn from us and imitate us. They are so eager to be grown up that they will copy the actions and attitudes of nearly any adult they deem cool. That's what's so wonderful yet dangerous about kids.
They need people to talk with them, not at them. They need to be given boundaries and instruction, not only discipline. They need to be taught how to treat each other, not just left to their own devices. They need active, engaged, enthusiastic adults to care enough to invest in who they are becoming. And these adults don't need a title or position in order to have influence, they just need to show up and be genuinely interested.
I'm just saying, if you know a kid, a niece, nephew, babysitter, neighborhood kid, be nice. Be interested. Be a person of positive influence in their life. Believe in them. Mentor them. Encourage them. Teach them. Show up for them. Empower them.
Before you freak out this doesn't have to be an all consuming, time hog commitment. You make make a difference to a kid just by letting them know that you see them, you are glad they are alive. You can mentor a kid by modelling positive behaviour, putting your actions behind your words. You can empower them by supporting their ideas and allowing them to make mistakes and, most importantly, helping them to recover from their mistakes.
Like it or not, cliche or not, children are our future and they are a direct reflection of the investment we all have made into them. What reflection do you see when you look at the kids you know?
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ~Frederick Douglass

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