What’s it all about?
What have the hard yards taught you?
What is the point of it all?
Over the past few weeks of massive change in my life, I’ve found myself at this defining crossroad. After being involved in the raising of some 30 children, 20 years of working with young people, and my own colorful delinquency to draw from, I found myself left with two options;
1. Just walk away from it all or,
2. Make the most of the thousands of encounters and experiences I’ve had, and use them to my best ability to help others!!
Those who know me probably don’t need to guess which option I’ve chosen!!!! Needless to say, I want to continue to make positive changes in peoples’ lives, and if my experiences can help do that, then I’m in!!
The crisis with our young people is becoming an epidemic, with 1 in 4 young people now experiencing mental health issues. Suicide is now the greatest killer of our youth. We can spend hours trying to figure out how we got here, which is not a useless exercise, but I am more interested in discussing how we get out of here!
This is not something I take lightly. This is young peoples’ lives we are talking about here, and as far as I’m concerned, each one is as important as the next. In my years working with young people, there are few issues that I haven’t come across; from the 14 year old drug addict prostitute with violent tendencies, to the shy, anxiety ridden, over achiever. I have walked the journey of self harm to self respect with many girls and have made numerous trips to mental health emergency wards. And then there’s my own teenagers!! Now there’s a book in that with an unfinished last chapter!
Furthermore, to the many parents out there scratching their heads and trying to figure out what’s ‘normal'; how are you meant to know – when your teenagers are probably the first teenagers you have come in to contact with? It’s so bloody hard!! Where do you find the answers to that question, and what do you do with the foreign, frightening behaviour that you suddenly find yourself confronted with?
It’s this all too common encounter with parents posing this question, and my ongoing concern for the state of our young people, that’s inspiring me to take my next big step.
Some of you may be aware, that for the past 12 months I have had great success and incredible feedback from the various public speaking engagements I’ve had with young people and adults dealing with young people. My approach is fairly ‘cutting edge‘, as I believe we are way past dancing around the issues that are affecting our young people today. They want to hear from someone who talks their language and faces, head on, the plethora of impending issues. Furthermore, they need practical, well thought out, realistic strategies.
It is my aim and commitment, through public speaking around the country, to leave a room of young people with a sense that they matter; that they have what it takes to tackle all that life throws at them; that when in crisis they have the tools to turn their lives around! Even if I empower just a handful on this journey, it will all be worth it!!!!
I am excited about what lies ahead – and it just feels right!