‘A Youth Worker’s Perspective’
Who would you be if most of the respected young men in your community dealt drugs? Who would you be if you saw your older brother making extra money doing the same? Who would you be if both of your parents had to work to support your family and you were left home alone for most of the day? Who would you be if the values at your school revolved around building a reputation of having nice shoes and being able to ‘get girls?’ Who would you be if you faced these pressures daily in order to be cool? Who would you be if the teachers you listened to the most constantly disrespected women, glorified crime and materialism and claimed they made their fortune without ever cracking a book? (Listen to the message of these teachers on MTV and BET.)
Antonio is a kid who faces these pressures everyday and has to figure out which values he should adopt for his life. Antonio attended our Middle School boys group last school year. He is a laid back, popular seventh grader, who has the respect of just about all of his peers. Even though he does not verbally express it, you can tell Antonio really appreciates having someone invest in his life. He came to almost every activity we had last year and wasn’t afraid to let down the ‘cool kid front’ to say ‘hi’ when he saw you at his school or the grocery store.
This receptiveness is true of most of our boys; they want someone to take notice of them and their struggles. Antonio’s story is not uncommon. Our boys are looking for someone to teach them how to live life. They need to have role models who do not deal drugs. They need a relational support system that is available and gives them guidance. They need a peer group that embraces counter cultural values. They need voices in their life that speak louder than the voices on MTV and BET. They need positive activities that will help them develop their gifts and talents. They need to come to understand that there is a purpose for their lives; that they were meant to do more than just exist on this earth. They need a Hope that will carry them through the chaotic mess that comes from growing up in McDowell County. They need a hope that comes from knowing who they are in Jesus. If this intervention had never happened in your life, who would you be?