(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)
The Leap Foundation DC mission is to “bridge the gap between hope and achievement.” This means we’re working hard every day to meet the needs of disadvantaged youth who simply need a stage for their voice and a platform to construct their path as future leaders. Our method is very simple. It’s all about support, encouragement and guidance.
You can do the same for the youth in your life, whether you are a parent, caregiver, sibling or mentor. Consider how the following small gestures can make incredible impacts.
Encourage and attend extracurricular activities.
They say extracurricular activities “keep kids out of trouble,” but did you ever wonder why? Committing to something – whether it’s a sport, a charity, a school club or church activities – gives an individual a sense of belonging. We all know that feeling of working hard to accomplish something. Youth who are involved in sports or after-school activities are working as individuals and with teams toward a common goal. Their hard work and dedication is something to be proud of – win or lose – and there is nothing more special than having a supporter share in the culmination.
Invite him or her to help with chores.
We want to raise children who work hard for their rewards and successes. This can only be done by working side by side to accomplish life’s tasks. The next time the lawn needs mowed, garden needs tended or animals need cared for, invite the youth in your life to come along, learning from your commitment to hard work. You’ll not only be presented with opportunities to teach, but you’ll be instilling the importance of finishing a task and enjoying the final product.
Complete homework or projects together.
Poor grades can take a positive turn for those students who have an adult close by when completing homework and projects. It could be as simple as preparing dinner while the student is at the dinner table or scheduling a meeting with your youth mentee to catch up on any difficulties in school. Working together presents opportunities to catch issues before they become much bigger problems that can escalate beyond repair. It is much easier to keep grades in good standing with persistent tutoring than to play catch up after a series of undesirable scores. Simply asking the question, “how are your classes going?”, is a great way to open a conversation.
Hard work deserves a celebration. Whether it’s working hard to clear the next hurdle at the track meet or nailing the next science exam, a job well done can set the tone for future successes. There is nothing like having someone recognize these incredible accomplishments and victories. The success, alone, will serve as inspiration to continue making great things happen, but having someone offer a pat on the back can help pave the path for this future leader.