(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)
Being a teen is hard work. But growing up as an underprivileged or minority youth means facing daily obstacles at home, school and everywhere in between. That’s why LEAP Foundation DC and the other local nonprofit organizations that we support and collaborate with are so important. We, along with the great missions of the Latino Student Fund, the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, LearnServe International and others, recognize that the potential of these young people simply needs to be brought to light. Through our mentorship opportunities, physical activity components, educational support and professional preparation initiatives, students we work with go from a journey without direction to the path to success.
Why is our mission important not only for youth, as individuals, but for the greater good?
We’re keeping kids off the streets and focused on positive projects.
We’re providing a positive outlet for negative emotions.
The students we work with are provided with a stage and a voice.
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s generation of leaders.
When we “bridge the gap between hope and achievement,” success is possible.
Students who engage in regular exercise are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.
A little extra help in particular subject areas means better grades and more opportunities for higher education.
We teach lifestyle skills that may not be offered at home.
No matter the background or upbringing of our youth mentees, we see the potential.
Every child needs consistency to keep their emotions in check and their goals in sight.
We take the time to explore skills, talents and strengths to help create a personal roadmap.
It is important for youth to have someone to talk to other than a parent.
The students we work with are future teachers, politicians, doctors and lawyers.
The professional leaders that oversee the organizations have skills and experience to share.
Students and children learn by example and that’s exactly how we lead, continuing to face and accept challenges in our adult lives.
As individuals, we’re bound to fail. It’s important to have someone by our side who is willing to provide encouraging words, while helping us figure out what went wrong.
Everything we do motivates students to discover a confidence that will serve them well for years to come.