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There is a dire urgency for more youth leaders in our nation. There are more crises at the forefront of our society now than there have been in many years. While the ‘forefathers’ of leadership and social change are giving their best efforts, they do not have the extensive reach as they used to largely in part to social media. In addition, as unfortunate as it is, their age is a factor as well.
It is time for new faces to step into the spotlight. For new voices to be heard. Just as it was in the days of leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., people gravitate to leaders who they believe are a reflection of themselves. This generation want leaders who walk like them and talk like them. They want leaders who they feel can embody their pain, and their struggle; and that care about the social causes that they are most passionate about. In fact, most youth (96%) think leadership is important to addressing the country’s most pressing issues; but only one in three young people says they have the skills they need to be prepared to lead.
Our nation needs youth leaders on the forefront to be advocates against many of the challenges that our youth face today. Cyberbullying, poverty, and discrimination are just a handful of the plethora of issues that kids are dealing with on a daily basis.
That is why we as a nation need to do all that we can to encourage young people to take the road that leads** to them being youth leaders in their communities and in their country. As parents and as community members, we cannot leave the task to the school systems alone. We must step up and be mentors to our youth, and be proactive in our concern with their lives and their involvement in social and global awareness. Furthermore, we must do a much better job at being role models and displaying the leadership qualities that we need for our youth to imitate. These aggressive courses of action may not be one hundred percent successful however, for in the end the choice to be a leader is totally up to them. However, at the very least, the proper seeds would have been planted, which means that there can be hope that they will change their mind about leadership down the line.
Every child has the potential to be a true leader, but need to be taught the life skills and given opportunities to be such. Fortunately, the weight of teaching true leadership does not have to rest solely on parents. There are a variety of community initiatives and programs that promote positive youth development and create well-equipped youth that are prepared to step into leadership roles.
One such program is 4-H and its Grow True Leaders Campaign, whose mission is to give young people across the country a forum to put their voices into positive action and rally the nation to invest in the next generation of true leaders.
I am extremely proud to say that my oldest son made the choice to be a leader some time ago. He is an Eagle Scout, and is now studying in college to become a high school teacher. Be it in classes on his college campus, at home with his younger siblings, or volunteering in our community, my son does a great job in displaying the qualities of a true leader.
Although he was afforded the same opportunities, mentoring, and community involvement that my oldest daughter was, she decided to take a much different path. And as much as I would despise to admit it, I cannot deny the fact that the life paths of my two youngest children could go either way as well.
Nevertheless, those thoughts will never stop me from doing my best as a parent to expose my kids and other youth in my community about the wonderful benefits of leadership. As a parent, I firmly believe that one of my top responsibilities is to teach and show the youth of today that they can indeed make a positive change in the world that we live in. Furthermore, we need to do more in commending our youth who are already taking action to be the youth leaders that they were born to be. The more that they see leadership in action, and receive the encouragement and support of others, the more they will hopefully make the choice to be a shining light for our nation and communities.
4-H is the nation’s largest positive youth development and youth mentoring organization, empowering six million young people in the U.S. To learn more about 4-H and to locate in your area, visit the 4-H website. You can also take a moment to join their ThunderClap to share one unified message about how great kids are today. You can even give a shout out to your kids or others that you believe are true youth leaders by simply sharing their stories on social media with the hashtag #TrueLeaders.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of 4-H. The opinions and text are all mine.