A community’s responsibility in nurturing its children and youth can take on many roles and can be answered through many avenues. The scope of opportunities and challenges facing our children as they move from their formative years to adolescence and onto adulthood can be overwhelming. But communities across the country, including the Peoria area, are finding more and more ways of working together toward a positive future for young people.
Too often the problems facing our youth can lead to negative viewpoints on how to deal with the issues at hand. Programs and services shouldn’t be limited to simply preventing youth problems or treating problems as they occur; rather, we as a community should constantly be looking for the means of developing positive outcomes that build the strength and resiliency of our youth.
To become successful adults, youth need a sense of safety, belonging, purpose, and self-worth. They also need their basic needs met, as well as healthy habits and social, communication, reasoning, and citizenship skills. The Peoria area’s social service industry offers a variety of services focusing on prevention, intervention, and education that nurture and mentor our youth from early childhood onward.
Children must acquire healthy behaviors and attitudes to thrive. Youth development programs that focus on building these competencies show children who are in preschool, after-school, and arts programs are more likely to develop a greater sense of purpose and have stronger educational aspirations.
Our local programs and services offer several opportunities for youth to blossom, including preschools that encourage creativity through arts and crafts and after-school programs that teach computer skills and offer educational field trips. Add to the list good social skills, mentoring, career exploration, community service opportunities, and several educational programs, and Peoria area youth are well on their way to a successful future.
Communities are constantly looking towards their future, and the key component of that future lies in the potential of our youth. As a community, we play an important role in creating a positive vision for young people. Today, even with several resources in place, there are still too many families lacking economic security and health care for their children, and too many children are going without quality education and the developmental support they need. As community leaders we must recognize that supporting children and families is a necessity to be preserved and expanded.
We care about our future, we care about our youth, and it’s time to make our caring count. IBI