by April Reeves
The word on the street is that teens in our community have no future. This is nonsense! Not only do we have a future, we are the future! It’s up to us, as teens to make the necessary changes to ensure that our future is a great one. Education, in my opinion, is the key to creating a successful future. It is important for teens to understand that success isn’t doing just enough to get by; success only exists when coupled with hard work and determination. The only way one can evolve from the negative aspects of the urban community is to pursue the course of success.
I grew up in a lower-class family of which no one had ever graduated from high school. I had my mind set to graduate, even though it was not demanded that I do so. While trying to stay on top of my studies and achieve set goals, I approached many days when I just wanted to give up. Aside from feeling self-defeated at times, I approached another hindrance to my goal of graduation. When I was in the eleventh grade, I became pregnant, and gave birth to a beautiful little girl. At this time, the dropout rate was high in my community. Backfit’s statistics shows that only 54% of Georgia’s kids are graduating high school, with the high rates in Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb. Immediately, people began to say that dropping out would be the next phase in my life.
However, in May 2009, I broke the cycle. I was the first of five children to graduate from high school. I had a sense of pride as I did not let my situations prohibit me from graduation. Because dropping out is so
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common in our community, staying in school was not stressed to kids. It was not uncommon to see a school-aged child hanging out on the street during school hours; no one would even think twice to stop and ask them why they were not in class. This is just one example, of many, that show that parents and adults are not engaged in their child’s educational activities.
In this community, children depend on each other as role models, but it is not wise to have one child learning from another. Nevertheless, if the parents were engaged in their child’s educational activities, the child would have been in school instead of the streets.
Parental involvement is very important during a child’s life. For example, it allows the parent and the child to bond. Also, the child’s attitude about school may be more positive than negative, and it would also increase the child’s security in knowing that their parents would be there to support them. I always tried to keep a positive mind set. I constantly remind myself that I will not be another statistic. A good way to stay focused is to let the negative opinions of others be your motivation. If people think that you can’t achieve it, have the mind set to prove them wrong. Get your education; pave your path to success. You are the future!
April Reeves –Currently enrolled at Atlanta Job Corps pursuing a CNA certificate.