“The greatest resource that any country can have is its children” -Danny Kaye
That quote was stolen off the door an incredible youth manager who is now on her way to Cambodia. It embodies every aspect of my passion for children to succeed, despite their background, culture, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status because they are greater than that.
I always think back on my own journey from East Toledo and how fortunate I was to have supportive parents and encouraging mentors. I initially had a full ride to the University of Toledo with tuition, books, and on-campus living paid for, for four years. Because of my parents and mentors, a spark ignited in me to do better, hence Ohio State. Though it’s been a struggle to find funds, balance work, school, extra-curricular activities and volunteering, it’s the best decision I made. I want to instill the same spark in youth to push them to aspire for greater and not settle for the norm or take the easy path. I want to show them where they are now does not dictate where they can be and what they can do.
This week I’ve been able to travel to all four sites and truly engage with the youth. It’s so heart-warming hearing, “Hi Miss Ana! I loooooove your hair!” and hear about their summer experiences.It makes me wish August 5th wasn’t around the corner so I could see the progress each youth is making every day. Hearing their hardships and achievements is the greatest aspect of this internship and has fueled my passion for equity in education.
Speaking of hardships and achievements. This Thursday, I was able to attend an emergency community meeting for the Wedgewood Apartment community. I believe I gave some background in my last blog, but it never hurts to repeat. The Wedgewood apartment complex is home to 2,500 residents (2,000 are children) and 90% of these residents are Somali refugees. Crime and violence within this community has escalated to the point that children are too scared to leave their homes and guns are being found daily in the bushes. The emergency meeting was between community leaders, organizations and school principals and teachers to not only educate all on the issues, but to brainstorm solutions. The long-term solution is a community center, which would give the youth a safe, fun environment to play and learn in not only after-school, but throughout the summer. The short-term goal is to pull all resources together and bring them to the apartment complex. I could go on and on about this issue but I’m going to jump ahead to the achievement part…
FREE WATER BOTTLES. After weeks of emails, denied requests, and one or two tears, I finally found an incredible organization, Green Spot, who is not only donation 400 reusable water bottles, but will be leading a “Going Green” workshop for our youngsters at the Youth Summit! Now that is a happy ending to a marvelous week.
P.S. HAPPY FRIDAY! Guess who is going to JazZoo tonight and is super excited? This gal!