We’re in the planning period of our annual spring Meet the Leaders event, a night that highlights the projects, skills and learning of our gender-specific youth. These are our middle-to high school students and for this one night they take what they’ve learned and apply it to a performance, artwork or an entrepreneurial project.
It’s what this night can spark in the youth, their parents and within our CFUM friends that makes it a game-changing event.
For Ken Auge, (you might know him and his voice better from his Star 102.5 radio program, “Ken, Colleen and Kurt.”) last year’s Meet the Leaders event was his first interaction with CFUM after joining the Backyard Boyz Advisory Board. It was an awakening for him that what CFUM does is more than programming for youth, it opens doors to the inner heart and unique passions of every individual child.
“Throughout the event, I could see these are kids who were really smart and talented. They have a good head on their shoulders and in their performances, I witnessed their level of passion and interest, whether they were creating art or playing a role in a performance,” Ken said.
More than a skit on a stage, Meet the Leaders is meant to show our youth that they are doing something amazing, they are creating something of value when they work hard, have a vision for success and stretch and reach – sometimes out of their comfort zone – to make their performance or product stand out on that night.
I love how confidence among our youth soars after Meet the Leaders. They’ve seen what they can personally do and that these skills and talents can propel them to their next success. Now we’ve got building blocks to a future filled with possibilities.
Nurturing the Potential
I’m not alone. Anyone who attends Meet the Leaders, volunteers in our programs, mentors or even simply takes the time to speak with our youth sees the potential that exists.
“I saw kids that needed a place to go and things to do…these are good kids who needed an adult’s help to make sure they are on the right path and to stay on the right path,” said Ken who has since accompanied Backyard Boyz youth on programs and outings. “This organization has a small-community feel in the way volunteers and programming staff helps these kids. This is what I was looking for, a place where I could offer value in providing direction and support.”
Last year, Ken gave the boys and girls in CFUM’s gender-specific programming a glimpse into his world.
He brought them to the radio station for more than just a tour; the youth were given a chance to write and record their own radio commercials. Ken told them it was their opportunity to tell people, who don’t know much about CFUM what they do and why it’s important to them.
“It is common for us to say in our culture that the children are our future and that is an obvious point. But if we don’t support them – especially those who need more help than others – then that is empty rhetoric,” said Ken. “These are kids doing well in school, who are mentoring one another, they have goals for their futures. If people are interested in supporting programs and people who are really trying like these kids are, then CFUM is a great way to put our money where our mouths are. Without the support from adults in the community, these programs can be very precarious. What happens to these kids when the support isn’t there?”
As we look to communities and cities we envision in our country, we all dream of that they are bustling with people of good character, who are determined and capable. I echo Ken’s sentiment that if we want future generations to be like that, we need to nurture it right in our own communities.
If you can offer one-on-one adult encouragement and support to youth who may not have that adult presence in their lives, then CFUM would love to have you help nurture the potential.
But first, join us on April 25 for our annual Meet the Leaders event to see just how impressive these budding young individuals are when given the chance to shine.