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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Make youth serving organizations a priority

Denzel Washington is a national board member and spokesperson for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. In this time of economic turmoil and the potential for change in the US political scene, he took time to remind us that we must pay attention to the children in crisis. In an editorial with CNN, he reminds voters that regardless of party affiliations, we must hold politicians accountable for helping young people. His key points:
  • Nearly 30 percent of this year's freshman class will drop out of high school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That number jumps to 40 percent in some urban areas.
  • The obesity rate for our kids has gone up by as much as 300 percent since 1980, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, triggering a host of health-related problems, from diabetes to heart disease.
  • Young people account for more than 20 percent of violent crimes in the United States, according to statistics cited by Duke University's Center for Child and Family Policy. Violent juvenile crime peaks between 3 and 4 p.m., at the end of the school day.
  • These facts are grim enough. Factor in persistent patterns of poverty, gang activity, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy, and you have a generation of Americans that will be unprepared -- indeed, unable -- to meet the challenges posed by a complex world.

How can we help? According to Mr. Washington, "In partnership with government, schools, community leaders and parents, we can create a network and culture in which everyone embraces the importance of a positive future for our youth. There are many ways to help:

  • Volunteering at a local youth organization.
  • Leading by example.
  • Donating to charities that make a difference."

Sounds like a great time to be a member of an Optimist Club. Make sure your club is following Denzel Washington's example. Read the complete post here.