You may have read my last blog about empowering youth to take calculated risks. One way to improve critical thinking skills and to encourage calculated risk taking is through reading regularly.
Reading is preparation for the future. We cannot put a price tag on the value of a quality education. No child can be properly education without becoming a good reader. Poor reading skills usually results in low grades and may lead to low self esteem. Reading opens up new worlds and new possibilities. A book allows youth to escape their current situation and imagine a brighter tomorrow. Youth become more aware of their worlds and their potential simply by reading.
The teen years are often characterized by impulsive behavior and unwise choices. Statistics tell us that many teens engage in unprotected sex, binge drinking, drug use, and violent altercations – dangerous risks. Of course this is not the case for everyone and I choose to focus on the notion that we can help youth take calculated risks. We can encourage our youth to take calculated risks. We can encourage them to boldly pursue their dreams despite their current circumstances. We can empower them to leave the safety of their comfort zones for the satisfaction of goal achievement.
Calculated risks are thought out and have the potential to lead to a better quality of life. Success takes action. Our level of success in any endeavor is directly related to the level of risk we are able to endure. We have to leave our comfort zones in order to progress. Courage is necessary if we want to move forward.
I tuned in to Oprah’s Lifeclass: The Tour with Bishop TD Jakes this past Monday night and was delighted to learn about Jimmy Graham, tight end for the NFL New Orleans Saints. I’m not a football fan but I am an advocate for youth in foster care and I was captivated as Jimmy shared his experience as a teen in the system.
If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we are commemorating National Foster Care Awareness Month 2012 with a focus on teen males in the foster care system. We are raising awareness about the needs of teen males in the foster care system in two special ways:
(1) Hosting our First Annual Pack A Backpack Drive to donate backpacks and personal hygiene items to teen males in foster care
(2) Using our BLOG as a platform to share real life stories about teen males who are about to age out of the foster care system and foster parents who are helping teen males successfully transition into adulthood
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest if you must, But don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a person turns about,
When they might have won, had they stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow.
You may succeed with another blow.
Often strugglers have given up
When you might have captured the victor’s cup,
And you learned too late when the night came down,
How close you was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the cloud of doubt.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you
What does “A Teen’s Life Is Worth Documenting” mean to you?
For a child in the foster care system it probably means those words that are written about them in their personal file. You know the file that precedes them at every meeting, placement, and court hearing. The file that attempts to explain the reason they entered foster care, the length of time in the system, the changes in schools, the number of foster placements, health concerns, and any mental health screenings and diagnoses. The file containing this documentation is extremely important right? Essential even?!
I’m not speaking of the file that documents the thoughts and judgments of countless social workers, lawyers, doctors, and educators and barely contains the views of the youth in foster care. The accomplishments, aspirations, and support systems in a teen’s life are worth documenting. Every teen is unique and full of promise and potential. My teens document their lives in a professional portfolio — a visual tool that gives employers, recruiters, scouts, and mentors a complete picture of who you are. I believe that a professional portfolio can be an integral element not only in building skills and confidence in youth but also in helping them develop and maintain crucial personal and professional connections.
Many of us we are skilled in a variety of areas. Our culture has taught us to multi-task like our lives depend on it (often times it does). Throughout my career and definitely as an entrepreneur I have felt like a jack of all trades and a master of none on many occasions. I have helped clients with housing, food, medical assistance, and clothing. I have played the role of “work mom”, chauffer, parenting coach, stylist, and teacher. Some days I have worn the hat of scholarship consultant, academic advisor, counselor, tour guide, and career coach. I am truly a “do what needs to be done” kind of lady. In fact, two of my most used phrases are “get it done” and “keep it moving”. That’s good right? Well, usually it is.
A few years ago I had begun to run on “auto pilot” for a couple months. At times I would do a presentation or workshop simply because I had the knowledge or because I was asked. I was forced to be honest with myself and take a look at how I was spending my time. I realized that busy doesn’t always equate to productive. I needed to make some changes.
Many people are compelled to donate gifts to children and youth in foster care during the Christmas holiday season (myself included). After the Christmas gifts are barely opened we shift our focus to how we will usher in a new year. A new year exemplifies a new chance to start fresh, another opportunity to change our lives for the better. People around the world make their lists of New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are goals, projects, or kicking of habits that a person commits to in anticipation of a new year. Most people plan to stay committed to their New Year’s resolutions for at least the entire year but roughly 4 out of 5 people break their New Year’s resolutions, however.