March focus is Youth Empowerment, which means putting the power of positive change into the hands of our youth. It means giving them the opportunity to problem solve, to get involved, and to take action. SAVE chapters offer exactly these possibilities, and empowering our young members is a favorite topic of mine when I explain to people why SAVE is so beneficial to our communities. Why SAVE in the high school they ask? Well, because our teens and youth make things happen. And the more that they are empowered, the more that they will step up to do what is necessary. Youth are both the present and the future, and our world’s success lies in their hands. A lot of pressure, right? Well, luckily, I have seen ample evidence that they can handle it. Here’s why:
1. They join SAVE, which means that they have taken a step to change a microcosm of the world – their school and community.
2. They lead – knowing what it takes to shepherd others toward non-violence and kindness.
3. They make it all happen. Youth members are fully the key to SAVE’s mission, and they are truly the ones that run the show.
I think of my own incredible high school SAVE members. They recently visited a district elementary school to lead a day of activities to remind the younger kids how important it is to stand up, speak out, be kind, and prevent bullying. They were in charge once we arrived – leading the activities with kids, both fun-filled and meaningful, speaking from their hearts about their own experiences, and becoming the role models that only youth can be for other youth. Teachers and parents can tell young people again and again that bullying and violence are wrong, but it takes another young person to truly get that idea through to one. The best role models are the ones standing right next to us.
Truly, it is the great privilege of an adult adviser to bring young people to a situation where they become the leaders. By giving them these opportunities, they are not only empowered, but they also inspire others. It doesn’t matter if that student was struggling in school an hour ago, or had a rough morning at home, when she is leading activities to teach elementary kids to prevent bullying, she is a leader. She is the future and empowered.
Finally, it’s that time of year again – with spring just around the corner, the National SAVE Awards will soon be announced, National Youth Violence Prevention Week arrives in April, and National SAVE Summit is at the end of the month. Get your pictures and posters in to share, and I hope to see you there!