Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hanging With My Heroes

This spring has been a fabulous one for me.  One of the contributing factors to the "fab" scale is that I have had an opportunity to spend some face time with the developers of the Communities That Care system.  I am always energized when I can ask questions and listen to them explain the WHY behind what we do when we use CTC to address problem adolescent behaviors.  Drs. Hawkins, Catalano, and Haggerty may not really understand just how much they have positively influenced my life, but they have.  They are heroes to me.

I respect all three of these men not only because of their contributions to our understanding of how to effectively mobilize communities to make a difference in the lives of kids, but because of their passion and dedication to it. They walk the walk.  And they challenge me to as well.

I suspect that I am not the only person out there to have more than one hero.  In fact, I have more than the three mentioned above. As I grew up in midcoast Maine and my perception of the world and my potential place in it matured, new heroes stepped in.  When I was very young my parents and other close family members made up the bulk of the list.  As a teenager several coaches and mentors joined them.  As an adult the list grew wider as professors and community activists were added.  Some people on the list are there because of their ability to support others or to parent with much more grace than I.

In all of these cases, the ability of these people to influence me hinged on one thing...our relationship.  Those who took the time to engage and challenge me have profoundly influenced who I am now.  Having someone that I respect take the time to discuss things, push my thinking, and challenge my biases is a sure-fire way to get me to examine my belief system and perhaps make a positive change.

So why am I sharing this?  Because I want you to consider that YOU are a potential hero.  Young people need heroes and mentors in many dimensions of their lives.  We cannot leave the job of creating heroes to the mass media.  Instead, we need to be brave enough to accept the idea that we can be heroes if we reach out and engage our community's youth.  You don't need to be Superman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, or Maria Hill to be a hero.  You just need to be a caring, positive role model.  Please consider this a call to duty...will you answer?

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