Throw Off The Labels
This weekend I am volunteering at a youth empowerment conference.
The conference is organized by the Future Aces Foundation.
There are over 200 kids in attendance.
Many of them have been labeled as
“at risk youth” or troublemakers.
The beautiful thing about the organization that puts on this conference
is that their focus is showing these kids they do not have to accept these labels.
A Simple But Powerful Message
There are numerous volunteers, presenters, speakers and teachers here.
All of us sharing the same message in different ways,
that they have limitless potential
and can achieve whatever they want in life.
Many of them have faced profound obstacles
and I’m sure there are many more obstacles in store for them.
I have seen over and over again
how going through an empowering experience
like this conference can give kids more strength
to face these obstacles than they realized they had.
Make The Message Fun and Relatable
The workshop that I presented was
“Leadership Through Movement”.
As a dancer, martial artist and
general all around encourager of goodness,
this workshop is a perfect fit for me.
I make the whole experience a lot of fun for the kids,
get them really moving and also throw in
bits and pieces of wisdom along the way.
The more important thing to me is
to hear what wisdom and insights
they themselves have to share.
A Label That Doesn’t See The Truth
I was warned about this one young girl
of about 12 or 13 years old.
She apparently was supposed to be
a “troublemaker” and “difficult to deal with”.
The way I interact with kids in my workshop
and how I treat them in general
is to give them a lot of respect.
I recognize the wisdom and depth
that they have and honour them for it.
I believe this young womyn could feel this from me
and she was one of the most enthusiastic participants in the workshop.
She seemed to love every minute of it.
When I asked people for reflections
she always had something very deep to say.
What Did You Learn About Leadership?
As it was a leadership workshop
I asked them “What did you learn about leadership?”
Her answer was that when you are a leader
other people are depending on you
and it is important for you to take that seriously and be strong.
She said that it is also important to show your strength
so that people feel they can depend on you.
Deep and Committed
She had such deep insight and
was so committed to the experience.
It is almost as if the label that she was given
was supposed to be for someone else.
I wish all the people who interact with her
could see the powerful, wise and interested
young womyn that I witnessed today.
You Can Write Your Own Destiny
This certainly is one of the messages that I hope
they all left my workshop and this weekend with,
that they do not have to conform to
any labels that are placed on them,
but they can choose their own destiny.
They can write their own story.
Of course I am not diminishing
the struggles and obstacles that they are facing,
they are real and I’m sure very painful.
I’m only pointing out and admiring
the inner strength that they have.
Sometimes all a young person needs is
Someone who can recognize and NAME their power.
This can awaken their own self-awareness in a new way.
We Can Only Do What We Can Do
But Let Us At Least Do That Which We Can Do
In the wake of the painful and devastating news from Paris
I feel doubly blessed to be here amongst all these people
trying to do something positive in the world.
This conference is so incredibly multicultural
and multidimensional it is almost mind blowing.
All these different people from different cultures
and different walks of life are getting along,
lifting each other up
and inspiring each other.
It truly is a magnificent thing to behold.
Sowing Seeds of Peace
I hope that in making a difference with these young people
we are sowing seeds of peace that will grow and blossom in the future.
I believe that what we are doing here
is a small part of contributing to a new world
where this kind of hatred and violence can be eradicated.