Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ready to Make a Change

On Wednesday, the delegates met one last time. The speakers were four of their peers: Jonathan of Picayune, Miss., Ebony of Tacoma, Wash., Stephanie of Chicago, Ill., and Reggie from Washington, D.C.

Jonathan with his trainer, B.J.Jonathan told of troubles in his past that caused his mother to send him to live with his coach. There he flourished, making straight A's in his classes. Then on June 29, 2007, the coach got a call about a fire at the home of Jonathan's parents. When he and Jonathan arrived at the house, the coach told Jonathan to wait. Jonathan said that he kept waiting for his mother and father to come around the corner and say that everything was OK. They never came. Jonathan's parents both lost their lives in that fire. He said, "In some ways I am still waiting to see them turn the corner."

Despite his grief, Jonathan moved forward. "I refuse to be another statistic," he told those present. He urged his fellow delegates to not let this time in Washington D.C. to just be a trip. He told them to refuse to become complacent. "We [must] demand for our voice to be heard. We are the future!"

Ebony followed and talked about the power of teamwork that she has seen manifested in the Youth Empowerment Project. "We all lean on each other," she said. "Together all of us can hold up the next generation."

Stephanie with Cynthia, the Chicago team's leader.Stephanie's group leader Cynthia made the introduction. "I am blessed that she is part of this program," she said. "But I'm not going to talk too long or I'll start to cry." Stephanie then took the mike. "I've always believed my opinions don't matter," she began. She remained quiet for years, not expressing her opinions. When she got involved in the Youth Empowerment Project, she tried to keep quiet at first, but she was encouraged to speak out. She discovered that her opinions did matter. Also through, the Youth Empowerment Project she said that she "felt adults were truly listening." Stephanie finished her speech saying, "With the confidence that I have received, I believe I've come to show my true self."

Reggie with his team leader, Raimon.Reggie said that he used to be "overwhelmed by the mindset that there's nothing we can do." He saw that he used to allow the issues to control him and take away any hope he had built up. He encouraged the audience to stop letting those issues control them. He urged them to become "advocates of change. Future generations are counting on us!"

Lina Thompson, National Training Director for World Vision U.S. Programs, ended the conference. "You've been about the things of the heart of God," she said. "You are part of God's plan to [take] things that are a wrong [and] to make them right." She asked them to become a generation that would say that power is limitless and be willing to give it away.

Signing the 2008 YEP posterShe described for them some of the future opportunities that would be available for them through the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP): training to become YEP leaders, paid summer YEP internships, a national youth advisory council, and national YEP scholarships to continue their education.

Lina finished by encouraging them to live by Micah 6:8. Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Then it was time to go. All the delegates crowded around to sign the Youth Empowerment Summit poster. They exchanged contact information, said their goodbyes, and then headed back to their communities, ready to make a change.

Laura Reinhardt, assignment editor for World VisionPosted by Larry Short on behalf of Laura Reinhardt in Washington D.C. Laura is Assignment Editor for World Vision in the United States and is currently on assignment at the Youth Empowerment Summit.

No comments: