2007-08-03 / Columnists

It's My Turn

Move Over…It's Time For Our Youth To Take Over
By Donovan Richards

Donovan Richards is the local chief of staff for City Councilman James Sanders, Jr. and has recently become involved personally with working with teens and young adults to address the gun and violence problems in the community.

There is an old saying that goes, "When youth lead, adults follow out of shame." Perhaps this is why Rockaway has continued to be plagued with senseless violence.

I have had the pleasure of holding conversations with many who are quick to condemn today's Rockaway youth, but slow to lend them a helping hand. This was evident on July 14, when Ocean Village Tenant Association President Nadia Charles and I organized a $5 carwash to raise money to start a teen's club and have kids in the complex go on summer trips.

I was amazed to see an older gentleman with a 2006 BMW park his car and walk right past a 10-year-old girl asking for a donation. I said to the gentleman, "I guarantee you're the same person who hears gun shots at night and says these youth are lost, but you won't give a measly dollar to keep them off the street." He kindly ignored me and returned 10 minutes later with a donation. I thanked him for his generosity, but shouldn't he have gotten it right the first time?

Although it appeared to be a simple carwash, it was much more than that. Nearly 15 youths from Ocean Village volunteered on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to raise money for activities. They raised an amazing $500, which proved to me that if our youth are given the opportunity to participate in community events, they would.

The problem is that our so-called leaders have neglected to provide them with these opportunities, which is a major factor in why they are hanging out on street corners and loitering in the hallways of your building. When I say leaders, I'm not just referring to our elected officials, but our civic, clergy, business owners and you, sitting inside your home.

Perhaps we have forgotten the notion of doing for ourselves. It's doesn't take much to go to your local community center and speak to the director to organize a movie night for teens. The truth is, all youth need is a leader to do these things, but the fact is, they will have to do it themselves. In the upcoming months you will see the youth of Rockaway take to the streets like never before to do for themselves and I hope the Rockaway community will support them.

On August 11, Renee Brown, the youth of Ocean Bay and I will host a carwash on 51-45 Almeda Avenue in the Ocean Bay Houses to raise money for school supplies and activities for the youth.

I urge all to come out and support them.

I thank The Wave for having the vision necessary to see the importance for a youth column.

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