Memphis is a great place. Of all the things we have to share with the world, our people are at the top of the list. It’s a wonderful collection of good people.
So, what do we need to do to make our city better?
As a longtime resident and business owner, I’m no expert, but it seems to me we’ve spent too long ignoring the young people of our fair city, those that are most at risk and are still learning and developing into who they will one day become. The city has given up control over the school system and the citizens seem to be okay with it. These days all of the headlines are about the city opting out of paying their share of retirees’ benefits. I’m still wondering what happened to the 90 million dollars donated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation before the city decided to dissolve the entire school system. While the city and county fight over who is responsible for what, I fear too many good kids may be slipping through the cracks.
The good news is, we seem to be turning a corner in the amount of opportunities available to our city’s youth. There are lots of good programs which are in existence today like Cloud901, Big Brother/Big Sister, Adopt-a-School, etc but we need all the help we can get. Mayor Strickland recently appointed a new director to The Memphis Office of Youth Services. Ike Griffith, a TV broadcast instructor in Shelby County nearly the past two decades, is the new man in charge and his first big task is to roll out the 2016 MPLOY and Memphis Ambassadors Program. MAP runs year round, while MPLOY only runs for six weeks over the summer. It’s a work program for qualified students that allows them the opportunity to get real-world experience by being employed by local businesses. The deadline for students to apply has passed, but if you own a business you can apply to be a MPLOY YOUTH Business Partner.
These kids are eager to learn and still have an open mind about the world in which they live. These kids need a chance to learn in a way that is best for them. For some, it may be exactly what we offer in school. For others, it’s something else. They need something to be excited about. Motivated! Encouraged! Inspired! They need something more geared toward their particular personality. You could have a huge impact on a student that’s looking for a mentor.
Ask any adult what they learned in school and they’ll probably say something like “I learned how to learn.” And that’s getting close. But the better answer is that they were exposed to something that got them inspired. Might have been a subject or a teacher or another student or something unrelated to school like a sport or a friend of the family or a job or a hobby. The first step to inspiration is exposure. They need to be exposed to something that inspires them and gives them something to dream about and work towards. You might not be a teacher in school, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have things to teach.
We need to get these kids exposed to as many good things outside of their normal, day-to-day as possible. You never know what may inspire someone. When we inspire a kid for life, we have created a great adult and have dodged a possible delinquent. That’s a big payoff.
When not at the helm of Optimal Process, a web application development group focusing on improving the workflow process with team collaboration and sharing information, you can find Steve Cantor at Otherlands listening to live music.