A reason for optimism and hope

Published 9:57 am Saturday, March 27, 2010

Given the headlines these days, who needs more bad news? As with seemingly everything else, it’s easy to find reasons to be alarmed about the state of our nation’s youth and the enormous challenges they have growing up in a rudderless society and facing an uncertain future.

The national public high school dropout rate stands at nearly one-third, and our area is not exempt. Good nutrition and physical activity do not seem to be a priority: Nearly 9 million young Americans are overweight. And our youth continue to struggle with dangerous substances: Almost 10 percent of teenagers use drugs. Add a faltering economy to the mix, and it’s hard to find any good news about young people these days.

But there is good news to be found, right in our own community, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia, Franklin Unit. Even as everything around us tells us to be pessimistic, we are full of optimism. That’s because we work with incredible young people every day. Their hope for the future gives us all hope.

Why are they confident about the future? Because they belong to the Boys & Girls Club — a place that enables young people to achieve academic success, embrace healthy lifestyles and develop a strong sense of civic duty. Clubs provide young people with support, guidance and the skills they need to succeed. Together, parents, schools, community leaders and Boys & Girls Clubs create a safety net to ensure no child falls through the cracks.

Consider what we have under way here in Franklin and Southampton County, where our Boys & Girls Club works closely with Franklin City Public Schools, The Tidewater News, Franklin-Southampton Charities, International Paper, United Way, the Camp Foundation and many others to provide tutoring, mentoring, art and photography, leadership skills, character education, athletics and so much more.

March 22-28 was National Boys & Girls Club Week, an annual celebration of Boys & Girls Clubs’ success in helping kids be great and reach their full potential. If you are interesting in volunteering, mentoring or donating to the Boys & Girls Club here in Franklin, please call the club at 562-7350 or email me.