There are a plethora of issues that exist in society. By “issues” I mean barriers for all people having access to a secure and quality life (however that is defined by them). Many people make the logical fallacy of stating that one issue is more important than another. For example, when I was an undergraduate student, I would frequently travel to Lexington, KY to protest dolphin slaughter. Yes, even though we were in a landlocked state, I wanted my voice to be heard. I had many colleagues attempt to undermine my efforts by making statements like, “Why would you protest dolphin slaughter when we (USA) have children who are starving.” Just because a person goes to one protest, does not mean that they are neglecting all other issues. The number of issues that exist in society are vast. The global community is dealing with child hunger, gender inequality, homelessness, wealth disparities, climate change, resegregation, lack of access to high-quality and affordable healthcare, lack of access to public transportation, low wages, and many others not listed. Many of the barriers that exist are interconnected; therefore, working to address one simultaneously addresses the other. For instance, in the case of dolphin slaughter, children were being exposed to high levels of mercury through their school meals being composed of dolphin meat. It was not only about protecting the biodiversity of the oceans, but protecting the health of children exposed to the toxic dolphin meat.
There is no “right” issue all people should invest their time in; however, we should seek to find the intersections of our work. At the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus, I have observed the many ways youth development intersects with almost every issue.
BGCC’s youth development programs provide holistic services to youth in the organization’s community. From making sure students are fed to teaching them ways to advocate for their community, BGCC directly and indirectly works to eliminate barriers in their members’ lives. What is under-reported, because of the lack of statistical and internal validity, is the number of members who will make a difference because of the support they received from the BGCC. For example, many BGCC youth have expressed that BGCC “saved their lives.” This is how BGCC’s work has the potential to indirectly address multiple issues. If we can connect youth with their agency by supporting their security and development, then the BGCC alumni will have the capacity to develop solutions for the various societal issues.