06/14/08 — Starting now: We all have opportunities to influence youth, community

View Archive

Starting now: We all have opportunities to influence youth, community

It might seem like everyone has forgotten Mayor Al King’s statements a few weeks ago about what it will take to get some of the county’s teenagers back on track.

But rest assured, there are still a lot of people thinking about his message of taking responsibility for our community and getting after parents who are not doing their jobs.

His words were tough to hear — both for those who saw themselves in the discussion and the rest of us who are trying to figure out what to do next.

But the bottom line is, there are a lot of people who are tired of dancing around the issues of what’s wrong with today’s families and why so many teens run from education straight to lives of crime and drugs.

We all agree that what has been done to date simply is not working.

So it is time to nudge the discussion again — and to encourage a few people to bring up the issues of lost youths and the future of this community.

It is time for some more brave leaders to stand tall and to lead the way toward an analysis of what it will take and who should start the process.

And it is time for a few more ministers to look straight into the eyes of their congregations — white, black or Hispanic — and to say that taking care of this community and its children might not be everyone’s responsibility, but it is their duty.

And today couldn’t be a better day.

There are hundreds of Wayne County returning military heroes back from service in the Middle East. And while they need more time with their own children and families, they could be excellent role models for young people who are lost.

We need them.

There are plenty of retirees in this community who have raised their families, but who might have a few hours to give to a young person who could use a good role model, or maybe even a grandparent figure.

We need them, too.

There are also thousands of us who are working professionals who could give an hour or two a week to a student who needs a tutor — or someone to listen — even if we sometimes think there is no more time left in a day. You never know what kind of future your example might inspire in a young person who thinks there simply is no choice but to resort to the same life he or she sees every day. We could give them a glimpse of what else is possible.

There are also active and retired legislators and city and county officials who know what the real needs in this community are — as well as what law enforcement, schools and others must have to make a difference in its future. They can serve by standing tall and fighting to bring the resources we need here.

And there are plenty of educators and others who could lead the way in helping create afterschool programs and other opportunities for children with few options so that these young people can get skills they will be able to turn into careers or a college education.

We need all of them, too.

Mayor King started the discussion, but now it is up to us.

And all it will really take to get started is a little faith, a little bit of honesty and a whole lot of determination and leadership.

This community has that in abundance.

Published in Editorials on June 14, 2008 11:39 PM