What Every Kid Needs to Know


By Ron Hindbaugh M.A.


According to General Colin Powell every kid needs a chance to develop into a responsible citizen. He believes so strongly in this idea that he has become the chairman of a national organization called America's Promise.

The mission of America's Promise is to provide children and teens with access to the five fundamental resources they need to grow into self-supporting and contributing members of society. In today's article I would like to discuss the five resources that General Powell and America's Promise feel are important to kids.

Caring Adults - Every kid needs a mentor. Ideally this person would be the child's parent, relative, or guardian. Clergy, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and even employers can serve as mentors.

A child needs a caring adult that he or she can look to as an example. When there is no adult example, a child will turn to others who lack the maturity and wisdom necessary to guide the child. We know - and statistics bear this out - that it a child has a mentor, he or she is less likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, less likely to engage in violent behavior, and more likely to stay in school.

Safe Places and Structured Activities during Non-School Hours, the hours immediately after school, are when unsupervised kids are most likely to be exposed to danger or get in trouble. Although there are clubs and organizations that provide after hour activities, a job, church activity, or any activity that gives young people constructive alternatives to hanging out alone can be beneficial.

Give Children A Healthy Start - No child should show up to first grade without vaccinations, inoculations, and hearing an vision tests. Health is the foundation on which a child can build a strong and active future.

A Marketable Skill Acquired Through Effective Education - To be productive citizens in today's technological world a child needs to be prepared. Parents, business, and the schools need to work hand in hand to assure that a child feels competent to perform marketable tasks for the community. When a person/young adult feels of value because of a skill they possess or are learning, they are more likely to identify with the majority of individuals who behave as responsible citizens in the community.

An Opportunity To Give Back Through Community Service - Children are never too young to experience the joy that comes from helping others. In the process, they also learn that when you help others, you usually wind up getting back even more than you give. Community service tells young people that they are important - that the world needs them.

There are many opportunities for service in the community. Parents need to be aware of and take advantage of these. They include tutoring younger children, cleaning up a neighborhood park, helping the elderly, baking brownies for a shut in, collecting canned goods for a food drive, making cards for sick children in the hospital, participating in a walkathon for a good cause, or even contributing part of their allowance to a worthy cause.

Youth organizations such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, and others have made a commitment to America's Promise to involve their members in more community service activities.

General Powell indicates that it will be difficult to give every American Youngster an idyllic childhood of elm trees and picket fences, but we can - and we must - give them the start that they need to grow up into successful and contributing adult members of society.

For more information about America's Promise you can call 1-888-55-YOUTH. America's Promise can be found on the Internet at www.americaspromise.org.