Monday, May 17, 2010

PhotoHunt: Half

Half Hidden. Half Submerged.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wrapping Your Mind Around This

I was chatting with a colleague of mine the other day about the work we do. He is a case manager for a state department that works with adjudicated youth. I work with and live with kids who come from very challenging situations. We were commenting that people outside of our world would have a hard time believing some of the stuff we deal with everyday. Kids who are considered sex offenders before they’re 18, kids who’d rather get locked up than go home, kids who are suicidal, kids without goals and aspirations, kids so used to failure and so afraid of success they sabotage any achievement, kids caught up with gangs because it’s the only place they feel accepted and cared for, or kids who perp other kids because it’s what they know. How do you explain the balancing act between holding someone accountable and pushing a little, with the worry it might have been too much and you’ve pushed them over the edge? How do you describe the feelings you have while you watch a young person escorted out of your building in shackles—wrists, ankles, and waist?

I’m a big fan of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and go back to that model when working with our challenging kids. How can we expect any other type of behavior from our kids when their basic needs of food, shelter, and safety haven’t been met? Sometimes what we see as “behavior problems” are really just survival skills.

We, as a society, are failing our kids. How do we break the cycle? I admire the work my colleague does—he treats his clients with dignity, respect and expectation. I admire the work my staff does—they provide a nurturing environment of acceptance, expectation, accountability, and belonging. Our influence is limited and time sensitive. We have to push a little harder sometimes and hope the safety nets we set up aren’t shredded.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

PhotHunt: Mother

I cropped in on the hands of MamaDrama and Baby Dee taken at the boys' basketball game. The full photo is a beautiful profile of MamaDrama with Baby Dee looking into the camera. I like the simplicity of the connection between them.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

PhotoHunt: Black

My first PhotoHunt Post! This is Chesapeake Bay as the sun was setting--I love how everything is silhouetted.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kids These Days

I recently had the pleasure and honor of accompanying one of my youth organization’s young adults to a state wide competition for a program designed to promote and recognize character and leadership as demonstrated by community service, academic performance and contributions to family and spiritual life. Young adults from organizations across our state were interviewed by a panel of judges from business, politics, and education. Our candidate did an amazing job and was hopeful to be in the final four—even tapped out an acceptance speech on his cell phone so he’d be ready, just in case.

Our candidate’s story is a fairly common one for our organization. Raised by a single mom, he and his three siblings moved to our community from a large inner-city in a neighboring state. Living with family members in a too-small apartment until public assistance kicked in, he struggled with getting to and from school, finding friends and positive social connections. This young man was faced with lots of choices: which crowd to hang out with, stay in school or drop out, become familiar with the police and court system, engage in generally asocial behavior…. Or…

Fortunately this young man found his way to our youth organization and was introduced to our teen programs. He made good friends, received homework help, learned positive ways to resolve conflict, and was given opportunities to give back. Most importantly, he was missed when he didn’t show up. His choices have led him to success in school--he is attending local community college with a goal of a career in law enforcement. He is seen as a mentor and positive role model to the young kids at our center and is looked to as the leader among the other youth program staff at our center.

I was proud to say he represented our organization.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chicken and Baseball

I almost burned the chicken tonight. James and I were playing catch in the back yard while I was grilling the chicken and veggies. As anyone who knows how good a good game of catch is, you'll know how easy it is to lose track of other stuff around you. (My dream when I was a little kid was to pitch for the Red Sox. Oh well.) It was nice to spend time with James--we played some more after dinner with Bobby and he even got me to play a little basketball.