Thoughtful Parenting: We believe the children are our future |

Thoughtful Parenting: We believe the children are our future

Gretchen Van De Carr/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

While this may seem like a simple cliché statement, have you ever really thought about what that really means? The children are our future. They are the future. It is our responsibility as parents to provide our youth with opportunities that effectively prepare them to create a healthy and productive future for themselves, their communities and the planet.

What I have seen happen to thousands of youth when they are empowered to be a positive agent of change in their community is astonishing. When youth become engaged in community activities, they not only develop leadership skills, they also gain resiliency skills necessary in making positive life decisions.

Empowering youth to be engaged in the community has been proven to build protective factors that combat risky behaviors. Studies have shown decreases in drug and alcohol use, school drop out rates and criminal behavior. Additionally, youth community engagement results in higher academic performance, lower rates of teen pregnancy and lower rates of marijuana use.

It is clear that youth today crave to be recognized as equal contributors in shaping a just society. Youth who engage in community service projects build a sense of belonging and purpose.

When they realize their voices and opinions are heard, they feel more comfortable sharing ideas and suggestions, and they see themselves as vital members of the community. This leads to a unified effort of community members of all ages to make their shared space a better place. These positive relationships between youth and adults in the community have demonstrated better social and emotional development.

Many youth-serving organizations have community service as a component of their programs. Local schools require students to provide service hours to community projects that benefit the public. We have an obligation to provide young people with opportunities to care for their community and recognize them as premier problem solvers. So how do we, as parents, do that? The following are some ideas.

• Visit the local humane society and help out with the animals.

• Take a walk on the bike path and bring garbage bags to fill with litter.

• Help sort goods donated to Lift Up.

• Weed the community gardens.

• Attend Annual Day of Caring for Routt County United Way.

• Apply for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.

At Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, our mission is centered around civic engagement as the medium through which youth gain positive developmental assets. We believe the younger the age of engagement, the more lasting the impact will be.

RMYC’s youth corps programs engage youth as young as 11 years and as old as 25 years in structured, meaningful service projects that connect them with local public land management, environmental stewardship, human services, agriculture and other priority needs that make Routt County the special community that we are.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Help us celebrate 25 years. Visit

Gretchen Van De Carr is the executive director for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.

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