Without a doubt, the migration of youth and children from Central America to the United States has been a hot topic on the news in the last few days. The question that everyone is asking: why are the they leaving?
But the question that’s been on my mind, that I believe is far more interesting and constructive, is this: why aren’t they leaving?
When we begin to ask this question, then we can focus in on the things that are working, and do more of that. I heard one story recently from a young man who has watched 7 of his 8 brothers and sisters leave and many of his cousins, and despite extreme family pressure he decided to stay.
When I asked him why, he told me: “Because I believe the work that I am doing in helping transform young people into change makers is the only thing that will help the current situation.” Wow! That’s powerful stuff! That’s the story that I want to tell, I thought.
This young man is just one of many that we know who isn’t leaving his community. And for those that I know who aren’t, these are some of the reasons that I believe:
1. These youth have a VISION for PLACE. They have drawn, sketched, dreamed and written about the community where they want to live. They can see it and feel it, and know that it is possible.
2. These youth are CONNECTED to PEOPLE. They are part of a tribe that is passionate, inspired and who care about their community, their country. They are part of a movement of change makers.
3. These youth understand that CHANGE is a PROCESS. And they know how to undertake that process. They have a roadmap that shows them where they want to go, and how to get there.
There is also a ton of research such as this recent Stanford article that show that experiences such as summer camps and youth development activities have huge long-term benefits such as increased motivation and improved attitude. SERES youth? They are all getting a great dose of these types of experiences – many of them for the first time.
I know that there are many more complicated issues and factors, but for me this is a great start. It gives young people something to hold on to, something to look forward to, something to have hope for. And that little word – hope – in this context is extremely powerful.
I am encouraging people to start asking the right questions to help us find solutions to this challenge – and any others that face us. Questions that focus on the positive, on the good news stories, that tell us what we are doing right.
Help us spread the good news by sharing this on Twitter or on Facebook or simply sharing this link with a friend. Or you can support us to do more of the good work by helping young people build hope.
Whatever you do, do it with a smile…the world needs a little more positive!
Have a wonderful day!
Youth Facilitator, Change Maker, Questioner