Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
It started with the video of a mother in Kentucky out to punish her son for misbehaving by having him mow the lawn for free, but he loved it! See the video here.
This got me thinking, with so many programs out there, why are we having such a hard time bringing these young inner city youths to them? Everybody knows that a family with strong parental support offers the best chance for a child to thrive, and a family with two parents and a fear in God is the best. But the reality of broken homes and a lack of religious teachings seems to be the norm these days. With the liberal education system and the “everyone’s a winner” policy, kids grow up thinking whatever feels good is right. Looking to be part of the ‘in crowd’, many find themselves in gangs or take part in delinquent behavior. By the time they’re young adults, many are known by the police.
The key is to mentor them when they’re young. When all a child sees is hate and fights and bad behavior in the home, they take that to the streets. We need to bring to the streets programs that these inner city youth can bring back to the home.
Here are just a few programs I’ve found that work:
The Fighting Chance Boxing Club: A nonprofit in Minneapolis, helps young men and boys work through their pain of loss with boxing and weight training. This program offers them a lifetime of discipline in personal growth through competition in the ring and a dedication to fitness.
“I just lost my brother on July 3rd. The day before the 4th of july, ” said boxer Deondre Riley. “We all have options. No one is forcing them to do what they’re doing out here.”
Riley’s brother was shot and killed in North Minneapolis and Riley is already channeling his brother’s memory into inspiration for others.
“If we start these kids young and get them in when they’re young maybe they won’t fall into what these other guys do in the streets and stuff,” he said.
The earlier a child learns health and fitness the more likely they are to carry this into adulthood. You can find more on this story at KSTP. If you know of a gym offering boxing in your area why not drop in and suggest they offer a similar program. Offering a mentoring program a few hours a week through a business may be considered tax deductible and puts a good light on the business in the community.
Kids Across America: When all a kid sees is concrete and steel it’s not easy getting in touch with God’s glorious works. Kids Across America offers inner city youth the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with Christian led sporting fun including camping, fishing, canoeing and other water sports. Professional golfer Paine Stewart’s wife Tracey has been a big supporter of KAA after his death. Their children benefited from programs offered when they were kids. Founded in 1978, KAA is but one of many Christian Youth Programs in America working to bring city youth up in the way of the Lord. You can also Google “youth summer camps” for programs in your area and sponsor a child who might not otherwise be able to attend.
Bike Cops for Kids: This is my favorite one. With the disrespect and mistrust we see towards Law Enforcement by Black Lives Matter and other groups, many people forget about all the outreach our city cops do on a daily basis. Bike Cops for Kids is one of them. When children have positive experiences with law enforcement they’re likely carry it into adulthood. Bike Cops for Kids was started in 2009 as a way to teach children bike safety with free helmets. What followed was incredible support from the community and the Greater Minneapolis bicycle community. Coming to assist in this program was a local bike shop along with funding from several prominent city residents. Bern Helmet agreed to donate some of their trend-setting brimmed helmets.
Throughout the summer folks are able to follow their project through a blog. Bike Cop for Kids main goal is to make a special memory that will stick into the hard drive of a child’s head as they grow up in challenging situations. Connecting cops and kids in an unusual setting, their own yard, and they use helmets, bike safety and bikes to do it. Safety is the added bonus.
Being able to lead by example a life other than what these kids see daily on the streets, mentoring can bring results in only a few short years. A 10-year-old taught discipline with respect today will be more likely to exhibit these traits as a teen. It’s said we can’t help them all but each of us CAN help one, we only need to pull that one kid aside and say “let’s talk.” Don’t just be a mentor, be a friend and watch what a little guidance can do when they know you care.
For more information on mentoring a youth in your area go to Be A Mentor today. For a better tomorrow we need to become a part of these kids’ lives today. We can be the ones to teach them to reach out to God before they think about reaching out for a gun.
Guest author Zel Mitzel is a Christian Conservative living in Minnesota. You can see his work and follow him on Facebook at TheDailyZealot.