I acknowledge the many parents, educators, mentors, and other community advocates that work tirelessly to encourage and empower our youth. It is important that our young people who are excelling be acknowledged and praised for their accomplishments. Yet we all know there is a gap, and some of our children are falling through the cracks.
If we’re going to close that gap and encourage our young people, it begins with each adult making a commitment to actively being a part of the solution. Our youth succeed or don’t because of what an adult did or did not do in their lives. We must commit to doing those things that will ensure our children a better chance for success in life. Having served youth for over 30 years, I have come to conclude that the three ingredients to a child’s success are correct modeling, method, and message.
When we are models for our youth, we must look towards the greatest model, Jesus Christ. Adults must represent Jesus well in front of children. (Col 3:17). To reinforce the example, adults must model the most important priorities in life: God, family, church, education, and community involvement. Our youth need to experience solid role models, because their behavior is directly impacted by what they see. When children practice good behavior, their accomplishments should be rewarded.
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and, when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Whether in the home, in church, or at school, we must consider our methods. Is it appealing to our youth? Does it engage our youth? Does it affect real change in our youth? All our methods should be questioned, evaluated, experimented, and repeated to prove their effectiveness. This is called innovation.
A method can change or evolve, but the message must remain the same. The message that we need to present to our young people is that God loves them, and so do we. (John 3:16) We also should tell the youth that God has a special purpose for their lives, because they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our young people need to know that they can do all things through Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Our message is to help the kids know that they are loved and can succeed and thrive in life.
Recently, one way we have engaged the children in our community was by holding a one-day youth rally organized by the local head football coach of Canton Public High School, Calvin Bolton. The purpose of this rally was to encourage the kids and help them to understand that violence is not the way to solve problems. At the rally, there were games, food, and community leaders who spoke to the kids to let them know they have mentors to talk to any time they need it. Coach Bolton said “[The event] was an outpour of volunteers and community leaders.”
In the future, Coach Bolton is planning two more rallies this summer, and other volunteers and organizations have already expressed their interest. He says, “We want to make it bigger and better by having more activities and different people get involved. We want to have a whole day filled with fun.”
Some of the upcoming activities at IHS include summer enrichment programs, summer camps, basketball league, art classes, movie nights, and much more. To stay updated on IHS and see how you can get involved, connect with Reverend Jasper Bacon at 601-859-5708. You can also visit InHisSteps.org.
Main photo from inhissteps.org