The Youth of Our City
When I think of our youth, what immediately comes to mind is walking in the street, challenging motorists, disrespect of people and property and outright anger coupled with vulgarity. I often hear from the residents, what can be done about the youth as they shake their head? While this may be the case with some youth, I have another viewpoint from my personal experience this summer.
I had the awesome opportunity to sponsor a youth baseball team and made it a point to go and watch them play. These 7 and 8-year-old boys were all uniformed and ready to go. They were excited about the game waiting for their turn to bat in that dusty dugout and of course, there was some fooling around, but they had an awesome season. I am proud of each and every one of them!
The coaches taught these young ball players every step along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them evolve as the season went on. As an active sponsor, I treated them to ice cream after a game. We all met at a local independent ice cream shop. The boys, although excited in anticipation, waited patiently in line to order their treat.
These youngsters were having fun and enjoying their ice cream on that warm summer night. I talked to them and asked them about their summer. They all said that they were having fun in the summer and enjoyed their teammates and the game. I received thank yous and even some hugs (who doesn’t like a hug). This sponsorship was much more rewarding for me than for these boys. I was enjoying summer too and enjoyed watching their skill set grow over the season.
The team’s skill only grew the leadership of caring coaches, who not only taught the basics of the game, but taught respect and sportsmanship as well. Adults involved in our youth, simply put.
I hosted a Ward 8 Wednesday on the Porch event that invited residents to Russell Park. The evening could not have been better for weather or attendance. As the conversation flowed between the neighbors about where we all live, for how long and what other organizations that they belonged, I looked past the group over to the playground. I saw children enjoying the park. They were on the swings laughing and swinging – some were on the slide coaxing each other down so that they could have their turn. I heard laughter and squeals – children playing. Next to the mulched playground were teenagers playing football and every so often you could hear them yelling out the score or debating a play.
I had refreshments left over from the meeting and went over to the kids. I asked them if they would like to have a drink. They did, however; I told them that they could enjoy the beverage on one condition - that the jugs and cups would be placed in the garbage cans and that no trash would be left to litter the park. They assured me they would make sure and thanked me for the drinks. As the meeting wrapped up and I packed up to go home, I looked back and not one piece of trash was on the ground. The beverages were quickly consumed and the cups and jugs were exactly as promised in the cans provided for trash.
The summer has also taken me back out walking door-to-door talking to residents about my re-election to Council. This walk through Ward 8 has shown me that there are still children that play in their yards and in our parks, there is still football games played in the street, Frisbees are still being tossed, hopscotch games are still made with chalk on the sidewalk (I still do not understand that rock thing), basketballs are still being bounced around and they are riding their bikes around the neighborhood. I even happened upon a lemonade stand. I make it a point to stop and say hello and watch them play for a minute or two.
I am not saying that we do not have problems with youth in the community because we certainly do and I’m not trying to paint a Mayberry existence. What I am saying is to step back and take another look…….I can guarantee that you will see the innocence of youth and the enjoyment of the summer still in each of them. Heck, you may even see me take a chance by jumping through that hopscotch outlined on the ground!