YOUNG PEOPLE IN CRISIS
At-risk youth comprise a vast population of young people in the United States and Canada. They often live in chronic poverty with negative peer influences, and possibly live in foster care.
When the needs of these young people go unmet, their potential negative outcomes include: teenage pregnancy, criminal or antisocial behavior, poor academic performance, shorter life span, mental health disorders, and unhealthy relationships.
For many of us the image of a young person about to graduate highschool conjures up feelings of anticipation and excitement. We picture the smiling faces of students in cap and gown striding across the stage to receive their diploma and head off into a new world of possibilities: college, job training, the military. But for many, graduation is a day of fear and dread. It may mean there is no longer a safe place to come each day – a place where they were safe, warm, had access to bathrooms and meals. For some teenagers, this rite of passage of graduation, or turning 18, might mean they are no longer allowed to live at home. There are a number of reasons ranging from disciplinary issues, sexual identity, pregnancy, or simply too many mouths to feed. Teens in Foster Care suddenly find themselves on their own on their 18th birthday. For younger teens the prospect of summer vacation simply means emptier bellies without school breakfasts and lunches.
Young adults in low income situations are enticed by colleges and encouraged by well meaning counsellors to better themselves with higher education. These students are promised free tuition only to find out that housing, meal plans and course materials are not covered. They scramble to make it and give up food and housing in order to pay for books. Many high schools and universities now have food pantries to help alleviate hunger among these student populations. In fact, in some states, it has become mandatory for universities to have on-campus food pantries. If you have teens or college aged members in your ecclesia, ask them to find out what services their schools provide and how you may be able to support them. Many teens in Foster Care rely on such pantries to provide food to get them through the weekend if they are going to visit their families.
Youth transitioning to adulthood without the tools and support they need face many challenges due many factors including aging out of Foster Care, unsafe home environments, and poverty. Many homeless shelters will not allow unaccompanied youth to stay. Services for this segment of our population are often very limited an even more difficult for young people in need of help to find and connect with. We can help lessen those challenges and offer support in many different ways.
When you register for the GotYOURBack initiative, The Garden will provide you with practical outreach items that include:
- 24 Backpacks that you can fill with food, hygiene products, and clothing items
- 24 Phone wallets and cards preprinted with National Hotlines and Youth Resource information
- 24 Silicone bracelets printed with encouraging Bible messages
- 24 small, easy to read New Testament & Psalms Bibles with encouraging and helpful passages highlighted
“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord…” (Psalm 127:3-5)
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