This blog is part of the #Recommit2Kids campaign, marking the 20th anniversary of America’s Promise Alliance and calling the nation to recommit to action on behalf of children and youth.
Faith is the cornerstone of so many of our lives. For many of us, believing in something bigger than ourselves shapes our minds and our hearts. It’s the quiet voice that tells us we can achieve. And sometimes, for young people in our communities, that voice comes in the form of a church elder, a tough teacher, or the older woman down the street, the “grown ups” in their lives. This faithful village is what protects and shepherds children as they learn to navigate the world.
Today’s village looks different than it has in years past, and with the white noise of technology, we often feel disconnected from one another and lose a sense of accountability to each other. But young people still need us, those faithful voices of “grown up” – and perhaps more now than ever. From the time they enter this world, children look to us as role models. The responsibility of role models has changed over time, but more important than asking how we got here, we need to ask where we go from this point forward. Frederick Douglass famously understood that, “It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Building up the next generation of doers and thinkers is perhaps our most important ask.
In these uncertain times, we need a moral army of adults – many motivated by their faith – surrounding our kids with love and care. In faith communities around the country, this is already happening. Afterschool programs, tutoring initiatives, and college prep classes occur in church basements and fellowship halls and sanctuaries around the nation. In fact, stepping up as a community to support kids has been the foundation of progressive movements. It should be the cornerstone of movements today as well.
We need strong, innovative, caring leaders and adults to drive our youth forward. Our community institutions may have shifted, but the potential to help these young people change the world remains. We need community-based learning and renewed investment into programs that challenge and grow our kids. We need to remind our young people of the importance of faith – of believing in something larger than themselves – beliefs that can help them get through the most difficult of times.
We can help them understand the importance of caring for their fellow man. And rather than waiting for others to reprimand our children when they fall short, we can be the first contact and first line of defense in that regard. As their village, we have an obligation to all children. To see them succeed. To provide them with the tools they need to be competitive in today’s job market. To help them grow into great men and women that will do the same for their own.