Young urban people are currently confronted with the tremendous task of learning to live in a more fiercely competitive world compared to young people two decades ago. Across the country, we are constantly bombarded with statistics stating their chances of reaching twenty-one years of age, educated, in excellent mental and physical health, and not pregnant, incarcerated or dead are increasingly slim.
In communities around the country families are living in poverty. It is well documented that our young people enrolled in urban public schools are dropping out at rates faster than their suburban counterparts. Their enrollments in prisons are growing, however. Teen pregnancy continues to plague our community. Professionals and community activists working in these communities also witness the challenges young persons of color face on a daily basis. A vast number of reasons are given for this situation. They all seem to focus on children and their environment. The most common reasons cited for their limited success are growing up in single-parent households, few or no positive male/female role models, and educational settings that are disorganized, boring, and irrelevant to their daily lives. Regardless of the causes, those of us who care must continue to develop new strategies and programs to stimulate intellectual curiosity and foster positive development in our youth. The key lies in obtaining KNOWLEDGE and EDUCATION. Our young people must be given the opportunity to EXPERIENCE greater school success especially during the primary years. Each student brings his unique life story to school, good or bad. Eventually, they develops a disposition for participating IN school based on environmental experiences. Their life is created and dictated by the values and norms of their family, home, social, and school settings. How they sees themselves in the scheme of things is called their “REALITY”.
It is my firm belief that if we are to assist young people in viewing education as a tool required to navigate a successful life, then it is imperative we (caring adults) understand their “REALITY” and work effectively to establish respectful relationships which validate their childhood/adulthood and self-worth. They must be taught to expect challenges and see barriers as new opportunities to grow stronger towards manhood. Secondly, we must educate ourselves regarding the challenges they face in and out of school. Thirdly, we must create opportunities for them to engage in meaningful dialogue about their strengths and more importantly, their concerns. Ultimately four critical areas of a young person's life must be addressed by the mentor experience. Their feeling of alienation, being able to communicate feelings and emotions about life appropriately, knowing the definition of the rules of adulthood and the disjointed view between schools and their neighborhoods. Our youth must be motivated to compete intellectually in a diverse society. However, they cannot do that if they have not been given the proper tools and instruction to THRIVE in this society.
The Gussie Wortham Foundation Inc. Mentor Program will attempt this journey of exposure, developing awareness, sharing knowledge, and hopefully instilling a love for learning and growing into a positive leader, role model, and productive member of our community.
Mr. Kenneth Thompson
The Gussie Wortham Foundation, Inc.
For the prevention of domestic violence/mentor program
As your mentor and council advisor, I pledge to:
~Always be honest with you even when it hurts
~Push you forward when you want to quit
~Acknowledge your strengths and help you build on them
~Acknowledge your faults and help you correct them
~Help you to understand that it’s okay to cry around me and not feel ashamed
~Be critical of you in a kind and respectful manner so that you will hear my voice and listen to my advice
~Allow you to share your feelings and thoughts with me and not be offended
~Share the history and the stories of our ancestors before them who struggled and overcame tough situations
~Allow you the freedom to teach me the sound of your laughter, your childhood jokes, and marvel at the high level of your physical and mental energy
~Encourage you to respect your family members and view peers as the holders of your future
~Encourage you to welcome intellectual competition in school
ALL OF THESE THINGS I PLEDGE TO YOU!!!!!
The Gussie Wortham Foundation Inc. Mentor Program will attempt this journey of exposure, developing awareness, sharing knowledge, and hopefully instilling a love for learning and growing into a positive leader, role model, and productive member of the community