When looking at the positive factors in youth development, it becomes apparent why so many of our youth have difficulty succeeding in academic settings, and have difficulty cultivating their talents and interests. One or more of the factors that can make or break a youth is so readily available in the area I work in: South Providence. There are a lot of opportunities for positive youth development: City Arts After-school programs, the institute for Non Violence and other Community Action Programs. However, what concerns me are those children whose parents can't pick their children up from After-school. Or those children who are in After-school and they don't want to go home. A little girl in my homeroom was telling me the other day that she was tired and the police were in her home at 2'O Clock in the morning so she couldn't fall asleep.
Family problems, availability of drugs and lack of motivation in school are all issues that can render our youth hopeless. The hope is that we can awaken some sort of fire within them and show them there is a future out there. The hope is that we can create a safe, stable environment by creating programs that will offer a sense of family while encouraging positive youth development. There's a really great school in Rhode Island called The Met. www.metcenter.org That school has been the second home of all three of my little brothers. They have created a sense of family and support for so many youth that lack that at home and in the neighborhood they live in. They really take the interests of the youth seriously and go above and beyond to cultivate the talents they have and support them in any possible way. They help them learn their way around the state and help them network with so many different community voices so that when they leave the Met they have relationships that will last a lifetime. I think that a program like this emulates what the PowerPoint was talking about: teaching them constructive use of time, boundaries and expectations, and giving them hope.
I can say from someone who was troubled youth, that there was a Youth Development program that helped shaped me and led me down a path of pursuing a higher education and it showed me a different way of life and I was around a community and I honestly feel like it saved my life. The research shows that these are necessary components to healthy youth development, and it's so inspiring to know that we can really change this world by helping these youth who really need our support.