2015-2016 National Youth Activities Ambassador
Youth Activities: Challenge – ASK Youth What They Want to Do to Help Veterans!
Do you ever feel like all you hear is blah, blah, blah, blog, blog, blog?
Sometimes I think this is what youth hear.
I think they feel that we don’t understand them and/or that we are not interested in what they have to say. I’ll be honest with you, it’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just sometimes I don’t know how toLISTEN to them! Month after month I have given you ideas on how to engage youth, but I have never taken the time to ASK youth what they want to do.
As the New Year approaches, my challenge to you is to do just that – ASK and LISTEN!
- Ask the ROTC instructor, Civics teacher, Youth Director at places of worship, and Boy and Girl Scout leaders to allow you to meet with the youth in their respective groups during classroom/meeting time.
- Ask youth what they’d be interested in working with and/or for veterans on.
- Listen and be open-minded and receptive to their ideas and suggestions.
- Allow youth an opportunity to develop the program and/or project; they will be more invested in the program/project when they have a sense of ownership of it.
- Trust them! They are the future leaders of our great nation and we need to have confidence in them.
Tammi Sheumaker Baird, Department of Oklahoma Youth Activities Chairman, said America’s youth are “a community-wide priority.” Research shows that when involved in positive activities such as community service, youth are less likely to pursue risky behaviors (i.e. alcohol, drugs and violence) and stay out of trouble.
“Young people want and deserve a voice in their community. Youth can help identify positive solutions and build stronger communities. By allowing youth to participate in activities at your Post and Auxiliary, they can gain work experience, acquire new skills, learn responsibility and accountability, develop confidence and make meaningful connections with other youth, adults and community leaders,” she said.
What are you doing at your Post and Auxiliary to reach out to and involve youth?
You have been given a challenge and I can’t wait to hear what our youth have to say!
In the meantime, January (i.e. post-holiday season) can be a gloomy time for young and old alike. Cold days are perfect opportunity to play board games and drink hot chocolate or warm cider at a VA or medical facility with veterans. Encourage youth to help with snow removal, stack firewood, check and replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, etc.
I want to give a BIG shout out to the Department of Texas for providing a safe environment for youth to gather, sort and cut a huge quantity of manufacturer coupons to send to military families overseas. In addition, elementary school children collected 206 pounds of personal care items, snacks, treats, and canned/boxed food items for distribution to hospitalized veterans and military personnel.
Thank you for empowering our nation’s youth. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!