05/22/07 — Follow the leaders: Youth programs offer more than just resume additions

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Follow the leaders: Youth programs offer more than just resume additions

Monday night, the high school seniors on the Mayor’s Youth Council received their city leaders’ thanks for a job well-done and congratulations on their own achievements as soon-to-be high school graduates.

The students — all volunteers — were part of a group of young people who decided to do more than complain about their city. They decided to be a part of making it better.

The young men and women gave of their time not only to volunteer around their community, but also to share their hopes and vision for the future of Goldsboro.

And while they might not think their opinions were critical factors in policies and decisions made by the adults, there is no doubt that they offered an insight only a young person can give. And since, in the future, this community will be theirs, their opinions and perspective are important to determining what will be best down the road — 10, 15, 20 years in the future.

The Mayor’s Youth Council and other youth leadership programs do more than simply give young people something to write down on their resumes for college.

They allow young people to understand a bit about the decisions that must be made in the adult world — as well as the realities of budgets and tax bills.

But all that is secondary to the community spirit that these programs foster. Even if they choose to relocate somewhere else, these young people will leave with the sense that they can make a difference simply by putting their own needs aside and thinking of someone else’s plight for a while. And that compassion is a valuable gift.

Challenging our young people to be part of the future of their community is our responsibility — and a gift they will carry with them long into adulthood.

Published in Editorials on May 22, 2007 1:27 PM