When youth fades, find more youth and teach them

By Dwight Collins | Aug 27, 2015

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to listen to former United States Sen. George Mitchell speak about his book and give his perspective on the state of the union. Let me begin by saying that any man who could broker peace in Northern Ireland and make sense of the steroid scandal in Major League Baseball is someone I admire and could listen to for hours.

One of the topics he spoke about was the country's youth, from the lack of food to the kind of education they receive and I couldn't agree more with what he had to say. Basically, he said we have a commitment to the youth of the nation because they are the ones who will go on to lead the country. Broad enough statement; however, he went on to explain the the world is full of opportunities for young people to lead, whether in politics or the private sector. I got excited, and for me to get that way over politics is really unheard of.

Here is my take: it doesn't matter if you aspire to be president of the United States or the head of a huge corporation, the drive is in each one of us to do it. The first few years of life are the most important when it comes to the foundation that the rest of a person's life is built on. There is a connection between the number of children going to school with a square meal and the number of youth who find themselves dropping out of school and developing mental health and drug abuse problems.

Much like a garden needs fertile ground, if children do not have the right combination of care and nutrients, it will not yield much of a crop. I am not saying that this is the only cause for some not to thrive, but it surely is a contributing factor. In this day and age a child should not go to school hungry – period.

I also agree with the ability for the youth to chose a path that they feel passionate about and have the avenues available to do so. I do not believe that every student coming out of high school should go to Harvard, that is nuts. However, they should have access to a post-secondary education or job training. A healthy work force brings a strong economy.

The other point Sen. Mitchell made was that we all mature and become who we are at different times. I take this close to the breast as a father of three boys. This is something I have seen firsthand. Young boys growing into young men, some by 12 years old, some not until 20, nevertheless they all find their way sometime.

I feel that we are doing a huge injustice by not investing more in our future. I also feel that regardless of what we do, there will always be obstacles in the way.

I have young sons of my own and I know that it is my responsibility to teach them to take care of themselves to the best of my ability. When I can see that something is beyond my ability, it would be nice to know that there is something in place to help me out. Parenting isn't easy, but things that are worth it rarely are.

That was something else we agreed on.

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