Editor's note: This column is part of a community column series planned for the Aiken Standard's Opinions page over the next several months to answer the following question: What can we do today to improve Aiken's future?
Even during what many consider a crisis, regarding the recent county shootings, the light shines on the opportunity to bring a solution that could better our community for years to come.
If the goal is to improve, we must identify our issues and develop a direct solution. The common denominator for many of our crises is the involvement of our youth and young adults with the age ranging from 13 to 25 years old.
Some may describe these individuals as “troubled,” “at-risk,” “problem-starters,” or delinquents, but no one considers how they came to act in such a way.
Every aspect of a person’s character is groomed. Consider that.
Which means that these individuals did not start out with mindsets that would spark their interest in negative behavior; they were groomed into this way of thinking by things they were exposed to.
As leaders, we must examine what role we play in the daily task of exposing our youth and young adults to endless amounts of opportunities for them to grow and follow a path toward greatness.
So, the question arises, how beneficial would it be to develop a plan that is strategically focused on our youth and youth adults?
If we are being honest, we have failed to implement anything directly beneficial to the individuals we deem as our issue. If we are being honest, have we even looked in the mirror and taken any responsibility for them feeling so left out that boredom results in misbehavior?
We have developed into a county that cannot even offer simple recreational activities that our youth can enjoy outside of organized sports.
Can they go to mall with their friends? No. Do they have an inside location offering free-play sports catering to their schedules? No. Are our youth programs funded so participants can be exposed to things that motivate them to channel their innovative abilities? No.
Instead, they are constantly ridiculed for being on their phones, with us never thinking that maybe they see more mind-stimulating content on social media than they do when they look out their window.
Our youth cannot continue to be avoided.
If we care about our future, we must invest in our future.
We must invest in our youth and groom them to be life-changing leaders. We must develop an environment that is equally comfortable for them to grow up in. We must change.