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I have often spent hours on end asking myself what is needed to inspire the youth of Chicago. Many times I come to the conclusion that it is more resources, opportunities, funding, and that such resources are really needed and should be given to Chicago youth.
However, recently I have come to the conclusion that leadership is the way to go!
The reason for this thinking is my visit to the Chicago International Charter School system in Bucktown, IL. As I was giving a presentation about Dreams for Kids many students showed their highest interest. The fascinating thing that I noticed was the look in their eyes as I gave the presentation. For many of them it seemed that this is the opportunity that they were waiting for. Some people have thought that 8th grade is too young to teach leadership. However, I challenge those people since I feel this is just the perfect time!
This theme is the same all across the world!
The youth in this generation want to make a difference in the world. I have worked with youth from 7 different countries and they all have the same thing in common: they envision the world as it could be. They hope to work at making their vision come to fruition. Even within my community on the Westside there is a need to teach the youth leadership. If this is something that is taught on a large scale, then there is an unprecedented amount of transformation that could occur! As a youth I can say that we would be able to stop looking at ourselves and problems. Instead, we could play a major role in the development and creating workable solutions to problems within this city. What exactly is stopping us? I would say lack of exposure and knowledge to such opportunities.
The main thing that I feel needs to be done is to look beyond the traditional role of academia!
The United States, as a whole puts an emphasis on academics and maintaining the top marks for school. However, there is an aspect of a young person’s life that needs to be developed as well and that is their role in leadership. Don’t get me wrong I know academics are important but we should also compliment with exposure to different leadership styles. During my time in elementary school I saw rare opportunities to do so and much hasn’t changed since then. This can speak to some of the problems that we have in Chicago with our youth: I hope people can see that they are crying/acting out for something more than just sitting by waiting idly as life passes them by. Out most underprivileged youth are waiting for an opportunity to do something different, to be exposed to something that will transform their outlook and their life.
I know this because I used to be one of those kids!
I experienced leadership in all of its essence and it is something that I never stopped embracing. As I depart from this post I ask you,
what role do you think leadership plays in the development of youth?
Post by Cortez Alexander,
C4C Correspondent from DePaulUniversity, Chicago