Why read these stories we bring you about the youth we serve and the challenges they face? It’s just a “blog” entry, after all. At New Pathways, we prefer the term Journal to blog but, hey, either way, it’s just one of a billion items vying for your attention on the Internet. Why take the time? You probably think you already know all there is to know about “these kids” anyway.
After all, most of the young adults who participate in our New Pathways programs share commonalities of experience: indifferent or absent parents, stolen childhoods, teen pregnancy, single motherhood, paltry or aborted educations, stunted skill sets, limited options. This pile up of delinquencies litters their personal landscape, all but obliterating their view of a bright and promising future. It’s out there, just over the horizon, but to reach it, they first have to navigate a rocky and rutty road, pockmarked by unforeseen consequences and foregone conclusions. Bystanders (like you and me) look at the road ahead of these young adults and grow weary at the very thought of what obstacles stand in their way. For the young people who proceed down the road, the journey will give pause to even the most iron-willed among them. Many will falter. All will need encouragement. And more. Because despite what many of us think, will power alone will not get them where they want to go. They need dedicated “tour guides” and committed “traveler’s aids” helping them along the path. That’s where New Pathways comes in. No two young adults will choose the same route. But those who take the road that leads through New Pathways always end up on the other side of hopelessness.
Still, there is something else our young clients require along the way that is just as vital. And that is supportive cheerleaders who take the journey with them, if only in spirit. Believing in them and rooting them on past every roadblock, pitfall, and hurdle. That’s where you come in. And that’s why you should read these stories.
Yes, it would be easy to believe – because you’ve read and heard so many factoids regarding this “demographic” – that you, in fact, already know and understand the individuals involved. But you don’t. Not really. Not nearly. Each young New Pathways’ client is different. Blessed with untapped potential and unique personal gifts just waiting to be unwrapped.
For both the young person and the reader, the journey together is like a pilgrimage, really. Because a pilgrimage is taken in the light of a story already told. And the pilgrim goes anyway… in order to be changed by the experience of the pilgrimage itself.
So, take the journey with these courageous young adults. Because while their shared experiences may confound you, their individual stories will inspire you. And, you will be forever changed by the journey.
If you are inspired by the young people we serve at New Pathways, please pass their stories along to others. Tell them about the New Pathways blog, You Are Here, and our website. Tell them about New Pathways and its mission to transform the lives of Maryland’s disconnected youth through education and job training, life skills and moral support.
And join us, Thursday, October 12, from 6PM to 9PM at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore for a very special evening of celebration and spell-binding oral history during which our young clients and their advocates will convey first-hand, personal stories of overcoming barriers and achieving success. Tickets go on sale later this month through our website.