Monday, June 29, 2009

Study on teens lack of hopefulness

Sadly, about 15 percent of teens felt they had a 50-50 chance, or less, to live to the age of 35. Perhaps lacking hope, these teens are more likely to put themselves in danger, take drugs, attempt suicide or have unprotected sex. These findings came from a University of Minnesota study led by Dr. Iris Borowsky, associate professor from the Department of Pediatrics, and appear in the July issue of Pediatrics.

One of the key outcomes of Kinship relationships is the development of optimism. Having an adult friend who takes specific interest in a child’s welfare makes a huge difference in their outlook. I’m reminded by a testimonial by one of our kids, Matt, who recently graduated from William Mitchell College of Law. In his younger years all week long he used to look forward to Saturdays, the day Eric, his Kinship mentor, would come to meet him and play chess. Matt and his wife Stephanie are pictured below.

All kids need at least one caring adult who doesn’t have to ask them if they’ve made their bed in the morning. I’m pleased to report that fully 99% of the kids who responded to Kinship's year-end surveys felt optimistic about their future. That is something to feel good about!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Support for kids from father absent homes

"We fathers need to step up" was the rally cry this past Father's Day from president Barack Obama. He noted the hole in his life that came as the result of his father walking out on his family at age two. Thankfully he had two wonderful grandparents who poured everything they had into helping his mom rear he and his sister.

Kinship's mentoring program works with a great abundance of father absent homes, serving kids with holes in their hearts. Thankfully there are also many caring folk who have chosen to help plug at least a portion of that hole by reaching out and becoming a friend. These individuals, couples and families might help them learn how to ride a bike, play tennis or get their first job. But more important than anything they might teach is the love that is felt by kids who realize that someone cares enough about them to want to volunteer their time with them, simply to be a friend.

While mentors can't replace missing dads, I know that there are scores of kids who's lives have been significantly enhanced by kin relationships - perhaps formal mentors, grandparents, or simply caring neighbors or church members. Thanks to these relationships many kids like Barack Obama, coming from adverse circumstances are able to thrive.

Thanks to all dad's who are doing their best to be their physically, emotionally and spiritually for their children. And a special thanks to all who are able to reach out and include a child from a father absent home. Who knows, you might just be helping to develop a scientist, teacher, preacher, or even president of the United States!