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TOGETHER WE

(August 2019)

Sorry, Good Grades Do

Not Guarantee Success

Good grades are only one measurement of success. There are a few things that school testing cannot measure:

  • Effort

  • Critical thinking

  • Creativity

  • Collaboration

  • Curiosity

  • Respect

  • Kindness

  • Capacity to love

  • Social and emotional intelligence

  • Honesty

  • Open-mindedness

  • Initiative

    Internal strengths and qualities are far more important to a life of success and well-being than whether a child earns an "A" or a “B”. In fact, many school tests only measure a student's ability to produce a correctly memorized answer. For our youth today, correct answers on a test are not enough. By the time our children reach their teenage years, their brains have the capacity to think about interrelationships, to explore the boundaries between fields of study, and to create new ways of learning. It is these critical abilities that will fuel tomorrow's innovative technologies and create important social and world change!

    Some other qualities that are not measured by grades, like the ability to be self-reflective, action-oriented, and connected to work that improves the lives of others makes for more healthy development in our children.

    We may be living in an age that is obsessed with numbers, but that doesn't mean we have to teach our children to measure their self-worth by grades or test scores alone.

    It is up to us to help them develop the internal strengths that determine a meaningful life.

    When was the last time you helped your teen identify and build on his or her character strengths?

    Our children must be able to adapt to change, problem-solve, innovate, and manage large quantities of knowledge. To do so, they must learn to think critically about complex issues.

    While grades may determine who gets listed on an Honor Roll, chosen for a scholarship, or invited to attend a prestigious university, grades are not the end of the story. Grades may motivate some children. For other youth grades can discourage and defeat them.

    We can make a difference by paying attention to the "whole child," - not just the child who attends school each day but to the child who participants in family life, reaches out to others, thinks creatively, acts wisely, collaborates, does the right thing when no one is looking, and shows respect.

    We have the capacity to nurture these qualities in our children, to let them know they are more than a test score.

    Here are some tips on accomplishing this

    Develop an atmosphere of reading

    Read, read, read… Encourage your youth to read often setting aside time and informative books for their study.

    Focus on your child's interests

    Many of our children have something they love doing. Or have expressed a desire in a certain field of study. Do not take this lightly. We need to follow up on their expressed desires and provide them the room to experience it. This is in addition to encouraging them to try different things.

    Recognize and celebrate achievements

    The right amount of recognition and praise is invaluable to our children’s development.

    Make every day a learning day

    Even though we may not know the subjects our children are studying in school, we know what it means to do the right thing. We have opportunity to lead by example. This means being careful of how we act and what we say. They are watching us closely.

From The Director

(Excerpts taken from, Psychology Today and the Education Corner)

TOGETHER WE

(June 2019)

Are you a LGBTQ teen?

Undecided on letting the world know?

What ‘Coming Out’ really means...

You’re probably feeling like this is the most important decision of your life, right?

The question may be: Why would I want to come out, knowing people may not accept me?

You may also be asking: Are you really sure of your sexuality?

In acknowledgement of all those joyfully celebrating World Pride this month, Youth Potential Academy would like to acknowledge those youth who are NOT celebrating.

From all the staff at Youth Potential Academy, we’d like to say this to you:

Coming out is a personal choice which takes time and a lot of thought.

Don’t let anyone pressure you into coming out.

This discussion may be with family, friends, co-workers, classmates, and other people in your life.

We don’t all have the same emotional and mental makeup. For some people, coming out is not an issue at all. For some others, it can feel like a matter of life and death.

The truth remains, though, that there’s still a lot of discrimination towards LGBTQ. Unfortunately, our world has not reached a state of total acceptance.

It’s even scarier that people closest to you may be the ones who show the biggest disapproval.

We also want you to know and remember this:

Several historians trace the modern term “Coming Out”  to the early 1950-1960’s in the United States. Yes, around the time of the Stonewall pioneers. However, the term originated from the Debutante Balls in France.

And, It was a term of support used by LGBTQ pioneers to welcome someone to the LGBTQ community.

It was a celebration to come out!

You were introduced to an entire community who supported you!

Somehow from then until now, the term “coming out” has more to do with revealing a secret than what it actually means at its core.

Coming out is about accepting and loving who you are! Coming out is introducing yourself to the world and all the potential you possess!

Letting Others Know

Other benefits of coming out may include to:

  • Live an open and whole life.

  • Develop closer, more genuine relationships.

  • Build self-esteem from being known and loved for our whole selves.

  • Connect with others who are LGBT.

  • Help to dispel myths and stereotypes about who LGBT people are and how they live.

  • Become a role model for others like you.

Why Others Mustn’t Know

Of course, there are not only benefits to coming out. We wouldn't be having this discussion if it was so. Some of the reasons you don’t want to come out may include:

  • Not everyone will understand or accept you.

  • Family or friends may be shocked, confused, or even hostile to you.

  • Some relationships may permanently change.

  • You may experience harassment or discrimination.

  • You may be thrown out of your home or lose financial support from your parents.

How to Cope if You Feel You Can’t Come Out

Always know you’re in charge. If after weighing the risks and benefits, you decide it’s better to conceal your sexuality, here’s what to do.

Trust your gut

Don't feel forced to come out by friends or situations. You know yourself better than anyone. When you feel it’s the right time to come out, you’d have prepared well for the reactions.

Keep weighing all the possibilities

Your internal struggle, whether to come out or not, may be overwhelming. However, always ask yourself these questions: "How might coming out make my life more difficult? How could it make things easier? Is it worth it?" Don’t come out until you have the right answers to these questions.

Get a support system 

Even though you chose not come out yet, don’t forget that you’re not in this alone. Look for others like you, speak to a counselor, or call an anonymous helpline. Having support systems in place will help you plan how to come out (or not).

Let go of expectations

What if some people accept you for who you are after coming out? If you have a friend you grew up with who you’re still close with, you can test their reaction on the subject or confide in them. You may ask your friend how they’d react if their role model proclaims being an LGBT.

Parental and Family Support

You should know as a parent or family member that love supersedes sentiments. You are your child’s first support system. They are strong enough to face the world if they know you’ve got their back.

You have to love them no matter what and show support in every way possible.

Therefore, as a parent, when your child finally comes out to you,

  • Respond in an affirming, supportive way. Make sure you’re not nodding and smiling but giving off the wrong body language.

  • Accept and love your child as they are and try to understand what they are feeling and experiencing.

  • Stand up for them when others mistreat them.

  • Don’t make them feel it’s a personal struggle, connect them with LGBT organizations, resources, and events.

  • Express your intolerance for LGBTQ jokes in your community or media. You can also point out LGBT role models for your child to emulate.

External Support

Here are support systems for you and your child. You’ll learn how to better support your child joining these groups. You can encourage your child to join.

Whatever you choose, the staff at Youth Potential Academy just would like you to remember that you are not alone. We Love you!

Love you internally and know that you are beautiful!

Latoya Bey, VP


TOGETHER WE

(April 2019)

The Hidden Signs of Youth Depression and How To Acknowledge It

Depression in itself is a disease of ongoing sadness. It is a common problem in children and teens. Feeling sadness from time to time is normal, but if your child is depressed, this can lead to serious problems like substance abuse, self harm, and suicide.

Because a child is still cognitively maturing, they are not as articulate in expressing their emotions. It is unlikely that they will approach an adult if they have symptoms of depression. In fact, most children do not recognize that something is out of the ordinary themselves. This is why it is important for you as a parent to be aware of the signs of depression.

In order to recognize depression in children it is imperative to become

familiar with the signs and symptoms. You need to know what to look for.

Unfortunately, not every child that is depressed experiences every symptom. Therefore it is essential to know the key warning signs of depression in a child. Most warnings of depression fall into four categories.

  • Emotional signs

(feelings of despondence and hopelessness, crying often or may become withdrawn, anxiety, irritability, or feelings of isolation.)

  • Cognitive disruptions

(the child may express negative or self defeating thoughts, problems with concentrating or remembering, pessimism, and signs of guilt)

  • Physical complaints

(changes in appetite and weight, sleep disturbances, sluggishness, or agitation)

  • Behavioral changes

(avoidance and withdrawal from daily life activities, your child may become more clingy and demanding, restlessness and reckless behavior, self harm.)

As a parent it is important to be involved in terms of setting aside the time to talk with your child directly. By allowing your child to express their feelings, it creates a stronger bond between your and your child. Showing empathy is such a small way to help but leaves a big impact in aiding your child’s needs. With these tools, early detection can avoid future devastation down the line.

If you suspect that your child shows symptoms of depression sit down with them and talk to them. Seek professional help.

If you are unsure and need a referral or a list of professional services in your area, contact Youth Potential Academy.

(To comment on this topic visit: https://youthpotential.org/blog


With Love,

L. Bey, Vice President


TOGETHER WE

(FEBRUARY 2019)

Father, Father, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Fathers, It Is Time To Sit Back on Your Throne.

Because In Your Absence, The Nation Weakens...


As a young man myself, I quietly longed for a father to throw me a ball, to run behind me guiding that first bike ride, to have him whisper to me about girls…. Instead, I experienced these unforgettable moments from a neighborhood stranger, a correctional officer taking count, and listening to Dr. Huxtable lecture Theo on the Cosby Show.

My Mommy did all she could to the best of her ability. The rest of life’s lessons were learned, with much pain, from the streets.

As a Father, we have a divine duty to leave a consistent and positive impact on our children’s lives. Whatever the challenges and barriers we are faced with, we must find a way to overcome them!

You matter because without you, your son is more likely to be arrested, become a gang member, misuse drugs, be abusive, and forsake your grandchildren.  

You matter because your daughter is more likely to be abused, she is more likely to become promiscuous, suffer from depression, and become twice as likely to commit suicide.

All of  your children are more likely to suffer from psychological and physiological harm in some form.

Our children should not be forsaken because of our misfortunes and difficulties.

Today, take a personal pledge to reclaim your position!

Make a diligent effort to do more, call them more, encourage them more, love them more…


Today, our rightful seats as Kings are being occupied by Queens. And while many of our Queens are doing a wonderful and commendable job, they should not have to fill a seat that large designed only for you and I.

Let us release and let go of the guilt, if you have any.

Let us release and let go of the pain, if you have any.

Let us recreate ourselves if we need to.

Let us fix ourselves up if we need to.

Forgive yourself if you need to.

***       **** ***

From the Director


 

TOGETHER WE

(FEBRUARY 2019)

Aren’t Black and Latino Youth Just As Smart As Other Kids?

A closer look at the circumstances that fuel the educational achievement gap, and how together we can change it.

A glance at academic performance between Black and Latino youth and White suburban youth for the past 50 years would show a consistent and widening achievement gap.  It looks like this: Oriental and White youth are top performers, and Blacks and Latino youth continue to sink to the bottom of the ladder.

Such a superficial review  may cause some to believe that Black and Latino children are inherently inferior.

I am concerned over the widening gap and the notion that Black and Latino youth are unable to achieve at high levels in greater numbers. In order to help Black and Latino youth achieve, we must be aware of the circumstances that cause this disparity. Once we can come together to identify this, we can work together to change it.  

So, why are Black and Latino youth achieving less? And, what can we do to change it?

To tackle this question completely, one would have to look at countless variables. This is not a comprehensive review.

In this article, we only try to address the main cause of this disparity and ways we as parents, caregivers, and educators can address this problem starting right now.

One of the first  commissioned and nationally recognized studies that sought to explain why Black, Latino, and White youth were performing differently is now called the Coleman Report. It was completed in the fall of 1965 by James Coleman. Most people were under the assumption that money, text books, class size, poor or inexperienced teachers, lack of a rigorous curriculum, and the condition of school facilities were the leading causes of the achievement gap.

The Coleman Report revealed that differences in

achievement was more a result of family setting and family background than anything else.

In other words, how engaging and supportive the family was, the greater success a youth had.

We need to remember, that many inner city and rural youth develop damaging psychological thought patterns simply because of the experiences of their environment.

Living in dangerous neighborhoods and in

poverty has its own challenges.

Living in poverty can be depressing and squander a person’s hope, which in turn,

reduces the effort

they put in at overcoming and achieving.

WHAT WE MUST DO (Parents, Care-Givers, and Educators)

  1. First, we have to recognize and be conscious of our own negative and pessimistic actions and speech. Our experiences, accomplishments, and limitations in life does not have to be our childs. At every avenue in their lives we should tell them that they can overcome, that they can accomplish, that they can win, that they can achieve anything their hearts desire. And, we should make it an effort to surround them with this type of reasoning, even in the face of adversity and tragedy.

  2. Secondly, no matter how tired or how busy our lives are, we should find and make time for the youth we love. They need our time, they need our love, even if it is only to listen to them.

***     **** ***

From the Director

Visit the “PRESS” section of www.youthpotential.org/press periodically to read weekly informational articles from Youth Potential Academy’s Together We Publication, or sign up to receive our newsletter.


 

TOGETHER We

(FEBRUARY 2019)

Advice For Parents of LGBTQ Teens?

What to do when you find out or think that your child is gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender?

 

For some of you, having a LGBTQ child is hard to accept. For many of you, homosexuality is contrary to your personal beliefs and sometimes -- your religion. This creates conflict in you, and believe it or not, depending upon how you behave because of your own beliefs, you can be directly or indirectly traumatizing, abusing, and bringing harm to your child.

Youth Potential Academy would like to make the first piece of advice very, very clear:

The Love for your child should be greater than your internal conflict.

 As I write concerning this topic I am keenly aware of the sensitivity involved, yet, I understand that it is a topic that must be discussed. Many LGBTQ teens are faced with unique hardships and pressures that can cause damaging effects to their health, mental, and emotional well being. As an educator and advocate for adolescents, I’ve seen the horror of what happens to teenagers who are rejected, disowned, and abused because of their sexual orientation.

We must come together to answer and act on two questions:

A.)  Are we as parents, educators, and youth workers aware of their unique challenges?

B.) Are we interacting with them in such a way that is detrimental to their mental, emotional, and physical well-being?

Youth Potential Academy writes this brief article with the intention of educating, hoping to build understanding, compassion, and tolerance. We should all want to ensure the safety of our youth regardless of their sexual orientation.

I believe together we can, together we will, because together we must change this!

Here are some suggestions:

A.     You must be quiet and listen.  It is very important to simply listen without responding in any way. This also includes being conscious and cautious enough not to display any body language which may show your disappointment. Any sign of this could possibly be taken as immediate rejection--having devastating results on their emotional and mental health.

Do not try to talk the youth out of their sexual orientation or say that  it does not exist, as most of our youth are sure about their feelings by the time they decide to share it.

B.   Feel Honored. Even if you don't understand or accept their important news, consider it a compliment and a blessing that they trusted you enough to reveal such an important aspect of their identity.

C.  Thank them for sharing their intimacy with you, remind and reassure them that your Love will never change--no matter what! No matter what!

D.   Be Normal. Gently and lovingly communicate and ask the same questions you would with a heterosexual child. Topics such as sex, relationships, and school issues are still important. Changing the tone and approach of your speech will reveal your possible confusion or disappointment. As much as confusion and disappointment may be natural, it may be taken as rejection by your child.

E.    Respect their Privacy!  Let it be their decision to tell other family members and friends.  If they find out you revealed their secret, you invite betrayal and destroy trust.

F.     Seek help. No one is asking you to change your core values and beliefs. It is understandable if you are confused or disappointed. It is ok and understandable if you are overwhelmed with the situation. You may feel like a failure, you may feel guilty, or even ashamed depending upon the circumstances. If this is the case, there are many resources that will help you cope. There are resources to help you understand and converse with your child. Youth Potential Academy will help you. (For a listing of services in your area, inbox: director@youthpotential.org)

Why we must BE INvolved?  

According to national statistics,

  • LGBTQ teens are 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide and 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.

  • LGBT youth who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence are thre times more likely to use illegal drugs.

  • Half of gay males experience a negative parental reaction when they come out and in 26% of those cases the youth was thrown out of the home.

  • Studies indicate that between 25% and 50% of homeless youth are LGBT and on the streets because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Nearly a fifth of students are physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.

  • About two-thirds of LGBT students reported having been sexually harassed (e.g., sexual remarks made, being touched inappropriately) in school in the past year.

  • The average GPA for students who were frequently physically harassed because of their sexual orientation was half a grade lower than that of other students.

The danger to them and to society is great. This letter is a call for all of us to do better. We must overcome our individual biases and learn how to be more compassionate, understanding, and active in countering these devastating statistics.

Our teens are killing themselves because of our reactions.

Together We Can, Together We Will, Together We Must

***     ****     ***

From the Director

Visit the “PRESS” section of www.youthpotential.org periodically to read weekly informational articles from Youth Potential Academy’s Together We Publication, or sign up to receive our newsletter.

 

 

TOGETHER We

(January 2019)

Together We Can, Together We Will, Together We Must

The adolescent  years are a time of radical change. As adults, we’ve all been through it. Remember back in your teenage years when you struggled with self-identity, acceptance, got your first menstrual, and had sex for the first time?

As we grew, the world and it’s rules stood still. Life just didn’t make sense. No one quite understood like our friends did. While we wanted to explore, the world seemed bent on binding us to a set of arcane values.

Our parents were embarrassing, school was a prison, and it was chaos at home. Our rooms were our safe haven—our personal terrain, and even in there we were invaded.

But, out with our friends—it was open sky; our wings stretched out and all five of our senses were over stimulated.

Yes, remember?

 Message for Parents, Care Givers, and Youth Workers

 Friends, Sex, and Drugs

We all want our youth to be safe and successful. We want them to avoid the pit falls of life. And, we know where every pit is, right? If we grab their hand, we can pull and push them to avoid them all! Wrong.

Professional and personal experience shows us that adolescent years is not about keeping them close to us as they experience life, but, letting them go so they can  experience life.

Understanding The Teen Conscience

Recent research in developmental psychology and developmental physiology has shown consistently that adolescents actually “think” differently. What we as adults see as irresponsibility, rash behavior , and rebellion is actually a result of the physiological  and emotional makeup of an adolescents brain .

It has been found that the pre-frontal cortex , an area of the brain that processes rational thinking  and reasoning, is actually underdeveloped in an adolescent brain.

When our teens are faced with decision making, they use  a section of the brain identified as the amygdala more than the pre-frontal cortex.

The amygdala develops early. This part of the brain is emotion-sensitive and responsible for immediate responses based on emotion, rather than foresight and reason.

It is for this reason why our youth are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, rebel,  and display aggressiveness. It is also the same reason why they are so creative, non-conforming, and innovative.

Therefore, understanding an adolescent in this light, we can better guide them towards their full potential.

It is about meeting them where they are at, not pushing them where we want them to be.

From the Director

  • Visit the “PRESS” section of our site periodically to read weekly informational articles from Youth Potential Academy’s Together We Publication, or sign up to receive our newsletter.