Encouraging kids to rise above circumstances

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

I recently took a group of young boys to see the movie “Unconditional.”

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, I would strongly encourage you to do so. It is a movie of failure, redemption, love and hope. The movie centers on a long-lost relationship between two old friends. Their paths cross as each is going through a very difficult time. It is while trying to fulfill the needs of the children that the two main characters are able to move beyond their own problems.

The movie’s protagonist, Papa Joe, works with poor children from the nearby neighborhood. Through Papa Joe, the children are encouraged to excel in school, even though it isn’t considered cool to do so. 

There is a scripture in the Bible that warns of times when evil is called good and good is called evil.

Anytime I see a student made to feel ashamed of being smart, I think of that scripture.

I don’t know when ignorance became a cool, but I will be glad when things are turned right side up again. It is due to the fact that many of our youth don’t see education and opportunities as options for success. 

It should hurt us whenever our young people fail to fulfill their potential. Instead of aiming high and missing, it seems they have become content with aiming low and hitting.

Stories that inspired us as children, such as “The Little Engine Who Could” and that ant trying to move a rubber tree plant, are foreign to them. Without this can-do attitude, there are no high hopes in overcoming the circumstance in life. 

We are rearing a generation of quitters and individuals who forever cast themselves as victims. As soon as the going gets tough, they get gone.

The boys I watched the movie with were very similar to the children in that film.

This irony did not escape me. It made it surreal, and I wanted to cry. I would dare say that none of them have a dad at home.

They are children who have a difficult time hoping. The reality of their socio-economic status, demographics, and academic struggles give them very little cause for hope. 

I am thankful for people like Eddie Nichols and Buffy Stokes, who work hard to ensure that many of our young people know that they are loved and that there is hope.

Through their programs, Eddie and Buffy work hard to help develop our nation’s most precious resource. Just like the “Unconditional.” they love the children where they are, while at the same time trying to get them to be something greater. Buffy calls it “the right be heard.” Eddie doesn’t believe the kids care what you know until they know that you care.

Both programs are working hard to ensure the cycle of ignorance and co-dependency is broken. By setting an atmosphere of great expectations, they are speaking words of faith into the lives of our youth. 

What is that quote? “Some are born great and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

The scriptures states, “How can a man change his ways? By taking heed to the word of God.” As they work to renew the hearts and minds of our young people, His ways must become our ways. In my opinion, that’s our only hope.

As far as I’m concerned, I wish we had a “dream center” where the youth of our city can  visit and get the support they need to become successful. 

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