Monday, October 3, 2011

Challenge Day 2011

A couple of weeks ago I had the blessing to participate in the Putnam City West High School challenge day. Challenge day is an amazing program that the Putnam City Schools Foundation brings to all High School Freshman at a considerable expense. This program is made possible through generous donations from individuals and businesses from the area community. I can say with full passion that it is worth every penny. I have no doubt that at the very least it helps kids with the transition to high school. I also have no doubt that the program also saves lives of youth through the positive and healing message it brings.

One look into the tear filled eyes of a teen that has just opened up perhaps for the first time about the pain he/she is experiencing and you would fully understand. It has never been easy to be a teen in our world and now the pressures go well beyond what many of us adults have ever faced or will ever understand.

There are of course the big things you would stereotype for a large urban high school. Drugs, gangs, bullying and racial tension are there. Underneath all of this there is also a deep level of fear for the future and anger at the present. The norm for many if not most of these kids is a single or blended parent home. Many of them also find themselves often as an afterthought as parents struggle to pay bills and work long hours. As a result, childhood slips away and their hearts seek other ways to find love, confidence and validity as a person. The result of this seeking can often be devastating and begin another generational cycle of failure.

But there is hope! Programs like challenge day help open the eyes of teens and for some begin a healing process that would not have taken place otherwise. By the end of the day you see kids that may have never spoken to each other before hugging and committing to be open and caring. The mountain top moment in my group was when a young lady said to another, “I always thought your life was perfect and you had no problems. Now I know really deep inside we are the same.” Powerful

My son is a Freshman and PC North and will have the opportunity for his Challenge Day experience later this month. I am thankful for his opportunity for this experience and I am thankful for the Putnam City Schools Foundation and their generous donors for making it possible.

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