Friday, June 29, 2012

Always be sure to Inspire, Connect, and Impact...

The kids are looking, so let's always Inspire, Connect, and Impact.
The stairs weren't this large, but Taylor, our blog manager, likes to exaggerate!
A few months ago, my then 2-year-old and I were walking downstairs at my Mother-in-Law's house.  I slipped while holding a glass of tea and, yes, I fell down the stairs. The rest of the family ­­­ FINE, I just lost my balance and dropped the glass.  My husband snickered because he knows how clumsy I can be, but everyone else was fine with my assertion that everything was ok….everyone except my 2-year old that is.  My toddler boldly inserts himself in the conversation and tells everyone to “WAIT…my Mommy FELL down those stairs RIGHT THERE and she fell LIKE THIS” – that’s when he goes back up the stairs and begins what turns into a live looped reenactment of my secretly not so flattering fall!!  No need for a You Tube video!  It was absolutely hilarious and made me realize that NOTHING gets past this kid.

All joking aside, as parents, teachers, counselors, social workers, and other youth-serving professionals, we should never take for granted how our words AND actions impact young people, especially those most vulnerable and at-risk.  None of us are perfect and young people KNOW THIS, so when we stumble or even fall, we must remember to show them how to persevere through difficult times, how to make tough decisions, and how to ask for help.

My immediate reaction to the fall was superficial…how do I look in this situation, how can I prove that I am really ok.  Yet, as adults, we always want kids to share, to be honest, and to listen.  Well, my toddler demanded that my true circumstances be brought to light.  And, really that’s what young people want…not to know all of our business, but to know that we care and are not judging them.  If we want young people to be open, then we must not be clouded by superficial notions of what things SHOULD look like, but be able to meet young people where they are and show our openness to what they have to say.

A few weeks ago, the SC Campaign hosted more than 350 youth-serving professionals at our 13th annual Summer Institute, entitled Inspire, Connect, Impact.  We were grateful to have so many passionate adults willing to carve out some time to learn more about best practices in teen pregnancy prevention and other health/youth related efforts around the state and country.  Professional development opportunities like this shape our ability to effectively reach young people and to grow as mentors and role models for the next generation.

We can truly inspire, connect, and impact the lives of young people even as we constantly work our own way through the maze of life!

Kimberly Wicker is the Outreach Specialist for the SC Campaign.

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