By Robyn Shulman
What do you think of when you hear the term “at-risk youth?”
Children living in poverty, facing homelessness or those with disabilities? These children are all considered to be at-risk youth. However, the world has changed dramatically, and so has the definition. The traditional definition of at-risk youth has expanded significantly to include youth of poverty, disability, single parents, veterans and children of affluence. This combination of children is now 70% globally. This is an issue that all of us should care about in America. This is our future, and they need our help. I write this for my children, your children, and for all of the kids in the world who deserve better. Here at Dreams for Kids, we are trying to change this through various programs-we believe in replacing charity with opportunity, giving kids a hand up instead of a hand out, and helping those who believe they have nothing to offer this world-understand how important they really our to society-and how much they DO have to offer. We run a program called Dream Leaders-a unique approach to changing how children view themselves in the world. Dreams for Kids provides the platform to bring youth together for local and global social projects. From all backgrounds and socioeconomic areas, Dream Leaders are youth who work together on social initiatives, while uniting their peers at the same time. Dream Leaders provide the opportunity to help others who are less fortunate. In turn, they develop their own leadership and entrepreneurial skills, while discovering social issues that bring purpose and meaning to their lives. Dream Leaders learn and take action. They make a difference in the world, while inspiring their peers to join and help others who are less fortunate. We have amazing success stories-stories of overcoming the odds, such as the amazing story of Cortez Alexander. Stories about students making real life changes by using their voices and changing laws-meet Tyler Woodworth working with Governor Quinn to bring to real life changes to Chicago-amazing success stories. We should have hundreds of thousands of stories more to tell.
To see more media, please visit our highlights in the Dreams for Kids media. Quick facts about at-risk youth from Dreams for Kids:
At risk youth statistics:
- Poverty: Over 50% of all children in the world live in poverty – almost 24% of all American children or 16 million U.S. children are living in poverty
Disability: 10% of the world’s children live with a disability – 14 percent of U.S. children
Single Parents: 1 of every 4 children in the U.S. lives with a single parent.
Affluence: There is a higher incidence of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse among children of high income parents than there is of their inner city low income peers.
We have a lot to do. Will you join us? Do you have experience working with at risk youth?
Read more about at-risk youth and how Dreams for Kids makes a great difference during the holiday season with Holiday for Hope. Read more about youth at risk programs at my Chicago Now blog and see how you can make a difference for at-risk youth.