Thursday, January 27, 2011


Just received this email:
Are you a young person or do you know a young person (13-18 years old) that is passionate about service and would make a great leader?
generationOn is now accepting applications for its national Youth Advisory Council! This is a unique opportunity for ten middle and high school students (13-18 years old) from diverse backgrounds across the nation to participate in a service-learning and leadership development program. Participants will contribute to and inform generationOn programming, while acting as ambassadors and leaders for youth service in their communities. Thanks to the generous support of Hasbro Children's Fund, the Youth Advisory Council provides youth from across the country the opportunity to: 
*Engage in creative work with a thriving nonprofit organization focused on youth and service
*Partner with like-minded youth with unique perspectives from around the country
*Inform generationOn programming while learning about approaches for engaging youth in community service
*Act as a service-learning ambassador in their region by playing a leadership role in engaging youth in service and service-learning
Students interested in applying must meet the following criteria:
*Be enrolled in middle or high school (age 13-18 and grade 6-11) at time of application
*Be a resident of the 50 United States or District of Columbia
*Be available to travel March 18th- 22nd 2011 for a special, expense-paid, kick-off youth leadership event in Washington, DC
*Be available via phone and internet for monthly web meetings with fellow Council members
*Be able to provide feedback and participate in program evaluations
visit to learn more about how to apply for the generationOn Youth Advisory Council!
Applications accepted through Friday, February 4th 5:00pm EST
What is generationOn?
generationOn is the global youth service movement igniting the power of all kids to make their mark on the world. generationOn has brought the nation's leading youth service organizations and programs under one umbrella including New York-based Children for Children, The League, Learning to Give, Points of Light Institute's Kids Care Clubs, HandsOn Schools and HandsOn Network's youth-driven programs. By partnering with teachers, parents, schools, community organizations and businesses, generationOn gives kids the opportunity to see firsthand the issues in their communities and the tools and resources they need to respond and become part of the solution.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oprah, Maya Angelou, and Family Dysfunction- Sometimes I feel ...

 ...Like a Motherless Child.  Many moons ago I was humming this song, when my son asked me about the words. I explained that it was a song from slavery and I had seen it performed many times in dance by artists like Eleo Pomare and Alvin Ailey.  He found it very disturbing and asked me not to sing it.  I think he equated it with losing me or my mother, and felt it was bad vibes.  I have a wonderful mother so the song was not personal for me but it gave me a different perspective, and out of respect for him I refrained from singing it.

But the theme of motherless children is an undercurrent in the life of most African American families and this week it resonated with me for several reason.  It started when I watched Oprah's  Master Class on her new TV station OWN, where she interviewed Maya Angelou.  Ms. Angelou was so candid about her relationship with her mother. As she says, describing her early childhood, "my mother and father separated... and neither of them wanted me."  Fortunately, she had a paternal grandmother who was able to take her in and give her love.  Later, she was able to develop a relationship with her mother and forgive that early rejection.

The family drama continued with Oprah when she announced a surprise on her Oprah show, she had discovered that she had a half sister who she had never known.  This new sister had been placed in foster care forty odd years ago by her mother.  Oprah was open to the idea but seemed a little dazed.  Unfortunately, her mother was not able to fully embrace the child she left behind.  The story was so touching because it is the story of us, the story of America, the story of the world... secrets, surprises and family dysfunction.

In my own family, the stories of migration carry many stories of motherless children left or sent back to grandparents and aunties in Jamaica.  Then there are the stories of pain and resentment by grown children.  Just the other day my eighty something year old aunt told me, "my mother placed me in an orphanage as a baby but my father fought and got me out."  Several years later he passed away, and she was sent to Jamaica to live with her grandmother.  After all these years this was still a very significant part of her story, but now I finally felt she had an understanding and a forgiveness for her mother. This is a significant part of the healing that we need in all our families even if it takes decades.

Return to Children's Focus.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blogging about Parenting with Streotypes

 There are all kinds of parenting styles, check out The Black Snob's response to a Times article by Amy Chua explaining why Chinese parents are so successful.  Chua's description of Chinese parenting seems harsh and extreme, but my feeling is that this is partly a lot of hype to promote her new book, which is coming out soon.  However, this article has ignited a lot of response on the net, and I think Danielle Belton. aka The Black Snob adds some interesting points to the dialogue see

What bothers me about Chua's article is that it feeds "the grass is greener syndrome," which pervades our society.  This has us believe there is some group, person or celebrity that has it all together and we should be emulating them. What is success?   Defining what is success can be very personal and subjective.   I don't think there is one group on this planet who has been blessed with all the answers.  I believe we all bring a piece to the pie, like a puzzle we have our separate shapes that help to make a whole pie.

Return to Children's Focus

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Souls of My Young Sisters

Growing up I found inspiration from my mother, her friends and family who would tell us stories around the kitchen table while we cooked, ate, or got our hair done. These were stories of success and overcoming the odds. She also had books of inspiration that spoke of never giving up and holding on to your dream. There were a myriad of motivational books by authors like Napoleon Hill,  Norman Vincent Peale and many others. I spent a lot of time listening and reading these stories and I think this helped give me that optimism that has carried me through difficult times. 
Reading the stories of Souls of My Young Sisters reminded me that young people today also need to hear stories that inspire and encourage them. In this anthology young women "tell their true stories, sharing their private pain in the hopes that it will inspire other women during difficult times."  This book written and edited by Dawn Marie and Candace Sandy brings together the experience of  sixty  contributors who share their experiences, faith and encouragement.  I think we all know a few young women who can benefit from these stories of faith and healing. This is a nice gift to give a young lady to start the New Year. Visit their website