By Jazmon Boose and Jen Stolka
Cindy’s eighth grade teacher shares with Cindy’s mom a variety of community resources like the local mentoring program. Mom finds out more about the mentoring program, and Cindy is now going bowling with the group on Saturday.
The neighbor, Curt, asks his pastor for advice and hears about a local coalition working on these exact issues. He goes with his pastor to the next meeting and meets others that care about the welfare of all children, including Cindy. Excited to take action with the group, he cannot wait to get involved.
Your courage to step in front of the snowball of unhealthy decisions and struggles will alter its path. This could be the pivotal point in the life of Cindy or any kid. It can bring positive change to a whole community where scenarios like this play out every day.
We’re not asking you to do it alone. Others want to join with you.
- Give a community group a try. If a friend says, “Come with me to the next coalition meeting. You’ll see what’s happening and find ways to help out,” say ‘Yes.’ These groups of people get together to make positive changes for their whole community, changes like hosting an annual event to educate youth about the harms of drinking underage, or speaking with a county supervisor about a child safety policy.
- Take a parenting class and invite ‘Cindy’s mom’ to come with you. You may not think you need a class, but it would be an excellent way to brush up on helpful ways to raise teens. By taking the class together, you can empathize with Cindy’s mom on how hard it is to raise teens. She may find some encouraging new friends or ways to address the difficult issues of her own past.
- Introduce Cindy and her mother to the idea of getting a mentor. Perhaps you and Cindy enroll in a mentoring program together. This way you can build a trusting friendship in a structured setting. You will get all the direction and tools you need to be a role model, and Cindy will get the chance to turn her life in a positive direction by having at least one positive adult in her life she can trust.
- Say “Hi.” Ask questions. Listen. Cindy may need someone to just acknowledge her existence and listen to her thoughts. You might go one step further and invite Cindy and her mother to dinner, or help with a house project or some other way to spend time together.
It is volunteers like you, Curt, and people who know about local services like Cindy’s teacher and Curt’s pastor, who prevent substance and child abuse.
The next time you see a child struggling or a parent not quite making the best choices for themselves or family, will you step in?
Remember when an adult paid special attention to you while you were growing up? You can help a child feel the very same way. We all know what a kind gesture of care and concern can do.