Educating Young People to be Future Leaders
Some years ago, I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Cleveland. The luncheon included the top three winners of a speech contest hosted by the Rotary for local high schools. The young man who won first place - a senior from John Marshal High School - gave an unbelievable speech about living a non-violent life. He explained that violence serves no purpose. He sited the example of a friend who had been killed and how it affected him and his school. He mesmerized the room. He and his speech gave the entire room amazing hope.
This young man made me think about the harsh and cruel realities that some young people face today. It made me nervous and uncertain about some of the young people who are going to inherit our city. How are they going to handle the challenges and choices that will need to be made? This young man and his speech gave me hope. He was a solid leader and had his head on straight (an old-fashioned term but appropriate).
I think this young man had a mentor or someone in his life that taught him about peace. He already knew that life doesn’t have to be violent. Watching violent programs, playing violent video games and participating in violence is a choice - and one can choose not to participate in these activities.
What are we doing as a community to make sure our young people are prepared? Are we teaching them how to distinguish the difference between right and wrong? Are we preparing them for a world that can be harsh and unfair? Are we teaching them how to make good choices under rough conditions? And, most important, are we leading by example?
If you have an opportunity to mentor a young person and teach them about the importance of proper behavior, good choices and respect, seize the opportunity. You will not only be investing in the future of our city but you will also be investing in the future of our youth. It takes a village!