* This piece was originally published in The Times of Trenton on Sunday, October 6, 2013.
I am Darren "Freedom" Green, I am the President of TCCA. Being an educator in the school system, and a facilitator w/BOYD Mentoring Program, I am asked daily Free, what's wrong with this GENERATION of young people? With 34 murders now being registered in a city that is 7.5 sq. miles in circumference, the question is relevant and real. I answer it from 2 places, the depths of my mind, and the core of my soul.
The Bible states that the TRUTH shall set U free, our circumstances and conditions indicate, TRUTH now produces life, and prevents death. Thus, lets "walk", reflect, and build a new reality based in TRUTH.
My Beautiful Mother lived in and through the Civil Rights Movement, she "poured" the life lessons learned from that period of time into me. She taught me that Civil Rights Movement had almost came to a "standstill", and God intervened with the infusion of the children. Nothing is more majestic, dignified, and profound than to see children willing to lose their lives for their God given rights/freedom. Their daily lives became lesson plans written often in the blood of themselves and their people, teaching them painfully the power and responsibility of Civic Duty/Responsibility. The CORE of the answer to the questions asked lies right here. One of the greatest travesties committed in time, was the removal of CIVICS from our school system. Civics is a social science that deals with the rights and duties of citizenship. Thus, daily the young minds who walk, talked, and fought for their civil rights learned the power of being responsible, educated, empowered citizens. Yet, the question now becomes what happened to this present GENERATION? The Bible again becomes our reference point of correction and corrective action. We "view" the Book of Proverbs and it "paints" a clear picture. TRAIN up a child in the way that they out to go, thus when they become old they wont stray from the path. Sadly, many are RAISING their children, and there is a difference. Training is to make proficient through specific instruction, that shapes behavior and performance. Thus, when we ask what's wrong with this GENERATION, we simply need to look in the mirror, and find the source of the problem-US. Our young people aren't born dysfunctional, that's learned behavior. Thus, they will "move" from being trifling to being triumphant when we as adults TRAIN them to do so.
Yet, through my daily work with The Citizens Campaign I am connecting with great organizations, that are training and teaching our future(children). Mercer St Friends is one of these phenomenal organizations. Through their Youth Services Program they are training, shaping, and rebuilding decent and honorable young people. One of their initiatives-Urban Gateway, trains our young people in a number of areas. Job readiness, vocational skills, resume writing, dev. career plans, and helping them see the importance of communication. In the field the young people performed vocational duties, landscaping, cleaning debris, planting trees, and leaf blowing. All around the city, with 4 main sites being monitored and cleaned.(Shy Park, Berkley Park, The Train Station, and the Battle Monument). Experience is the BEST teacher, and one of the young people stated "I once didn't care about litter, and I littered. Yet, now I don't and I stay on my friends to not litter as well.
Another initiative is the Trenton Digital. In this program the young people again deal with life skill principles, vocational skills, self-esteem, and one of the most critical skills needed today-problem resolution. With 34 murders in our small city, too many young people clearly don't know how to RESPECTFULLY agree to disagree. This skill set which should be a part of the TRAINING, which truly begins in the homes, now is vital to the salvation of a GENERATION that is "lost". The Trenton Digital initiative takes it one step further and has a built in incentive program, ALL of the computers the young people work on they keep. The young people work on the computers and learn how to refurbish and install software, great skill sets in a growing, dynamic world and economy. Networking is the "bridge" that aligns GENERATIONS, and thus Citizens Campaign is "aligned" with Mercer St Friends. I will be going in and training the young people on our 5 Foundational Points. They will be "walked" through and trained to become:
- Citizen Legislators.
- Citizen Journalists
- Pol. Navigators
- Appointed Office/Boards
- Pol. Party/Committee Person
I live and "breathe" The Citizens Campaign work because it allows me to teach our young people how to be OWNERS, and stop being "RENTERS." OWN their civic duty and responsibility to be viable, intelligent, productive citizens who shape, mold, and build their communities instead of destroying them. They will know how to form and write legislation. They will know how to write for local newspapers, blogs, or Internet news. They will be "qualified" to navigate through the political "arena". They will know how to become appointed board/committee members, and make DECISIONS that impact the conditions in their community. They will also know how to become a committee person, and have the "inside" look at working with political committees/parties. We stop the RENTER mentality by training them to be responsible, engaged, and educated citizens. As I tell them talking, lip professing, and complaining SOUNDS good in social media. Shaping, developing, and elevating our social reality requires hard work, education, and a dedication to be nothing but excellence.