The abolitionist Frederick Douglas once said, It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. This principle of thinking is the foundation of the Born to Soar Series, a leadership development program I’ve developed targeting young males, particularly among ‘at-risk’ youth in the pre-adolescent age group.
I believe that each of us is blessed with the necessary gifts and talents requisite for success in an ever-changing world. Those talents need to be developed!
The Born to Soar Series asks, what are the skill-sets that will ‘draw out’ or extract the best from our young boys?
Obviously, there are baseline “wellness” indicators that need to be in place at the beginning of the developmental process; chief among them are reading proficiency, adequate sleep and a fundamental understanding of specific learning styles.
That being said, I believe that we should develop in young males a ‘success loop’ of strong communication skills, positive conflict resolution skills and an understanding of the value of community service. Our young men are born to soar!
As parents and guardians, we must overcome the challenges of communicating with our children: slouching body posture, endless fidgeting, blank stares and grunting responses. Likewise, we must equip our young men to become excellent and effective communicators. This is a difficult challenge in our technologically-based culture that dissuades human communication. The fact is, though, our young men must refine the basics of expressing themselves in a positive manner.
One of the toughest challenges to overcome in life for any person is that of speaking in public or presenting before a small group. Polls indicate that most people would rather die than speak in front of people. It’s called ‘communication apprehension’ and it is ground zero in our efforts to produce top-notch communicators.
I believe that one of the best ways to get our young men to open up to you as a parent or caregiver is to get them to open up to others.
If young black males master communication, if they channel their energy toward positive expression, doors of opportunity will swing open.
Conquering communication apprehension provides a solid foundation toward formulating strong conflict resolution skills. Most people simply are unable to resolve disputes in a positive and effective manner. Witness the high rate of suspensions and expulsions for fighting in most of our school districts.
After a young man conquers the challenge of speaking before a group, the next objective is learning how to resolve conflict with those external to him. Interpersonal conflict is a rubric of development; kids learn how to resolve conflict by working through difficult relationships, whether on the school yard, in the classroom or even at home.
The Born to Soar Series develops attributes needed for positive resolution, including empathy, tolerance and negotiation.
Giving back to the community is the crowning achievement of a maturing young male; no success loop is complete without this crucial link. Helping young males give back to the community is empowering them to embrace their individuality, be the best they can be and make a positive difference in the world.
The maturation process is refined and invested when the successful reach back and pass on knowledge and encouragement.
The Born to Soar Series invests its participants with the skill-sets required for excellent community service and include an appreciation for history, an understanding of positive interaction principles and a willingness to forge the relationships necessary for achieving effective and mutually-compatible results.
Our young boys are born to soar!
Note: This article was first published December 2017.
Pastor W. Eric Croomes is Executive Director of The Kusoma Project.