Youth leadership training: Preparing tomorrow’s leaders

Overheard: “The ‘Me’ Generation doesn’t know anything about the ‘We’ Generation.” The statement begs understanding.

Depending on where you look, youth-related issues include such things as drugs, education, health, human rights, poverty, and unemployment, just to name a few. Talk to anyone who is a member of a civic organization and they will tell you that membership is an issue. Younger people just aren’t interested in being involved in those organizations, many of which serve their communities with many volunteer hours and in ways that make a much needed difference. Youth are needed to insure that the organizations will continue to serve for years to come. But youth also need to be a part of the big picture.

Youth leadership training provides knowledge and skills that will see the young people into adulthood. The training and guidance empowers youth with better problem-solving skills, encourages them to participate in community, helps them to identify and pursue career goals and to achieve higher education. Youth learn to become more self-sufficient and to advocate for themselves. They gain skills in decision-making, planning, team work and educating others. The goal is “to maximize the potential and productivity of youth as well as empowering new leaders,” according to the World Assembly of Youth.

The United Nations issues an annual World Youth Report. Last year’s report says, “The transition from youth to adulthood marks a key period characterized by greater economic independence, political involvement and participation in community life. However, the socioeconomic and political environment in which young people live can have a serious impact on their ability to engage.”

The UN estimates that about half of the world’s population is under the age of 20. The report also advises that, “…healthy, happy adolescents are better equipped to contribute to their communities as young citizens despite the major shifts occurring in the world they are about to inherit.” Challenging adolescents are things like bad habits, poor hygiene, persistent behavioral risks, poor basic sanitation, and new and emerging diseases. Add to this list things like economic hardship, unemployment, poverty, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and vaccine-preventable diseases.

“The services, commodities, information and skills needed to sustain healthy behavior must be provided in the safest and most supportive of environments, building on the protective factors of family and community [emphasis mine]…A complete understanding of the stages of development in human life is drawn as much from religious writings, classical literature and philosophical texts as from endocrinology and psychology … well-read parents, teachers and health professionals who are inspired by such materials can study, understand, accept and respond to the specific situations … of early, middle and late adolescence and of youth.”

Family Recovery Center’s Education Department facilitates the Columbiana County Youth Coalition, which gets students involved in their schools and community organizations to bring knowledge and awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol to others, particularly their peers. The Youth Coalition discusses issues pertinent to their home schools, compares trends that they are seeing in their communities, and provides opportunities to attend workshops that teach them leadership skills building, substance use/abuse awareness, peer pressure skills, and campaign development. The teams meet monthly, the Youth Coalition, quarterly.

Times are challenging for everyone. The youth in your life need wisdom and guidance from their elders, to learn what is truly important to be happy and healthy, and what it means to be part of community. For more information about empowering our youth, contact Family Recovery Center’s Education Department at 330-424-0531.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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