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Friday, October 14, 2011

Raising Our Sons to "Dare to Dream"

We took our 4 year old and nearly 2 year old boys to see Disney on Ice presents “Dare to Dream” on Wednesday night in Atlanta. The Phillips Arena ticket taker commented on how excited we all were to see the show. We arrived early and had the opportunity to meet several of the performers before their performance.

After sitting down and getting comfortable in our seats, I had the chance to marvel at the beautifully designed props and spectacular lighting. As the Disney performers hit the ice, their costumes were both eye-catching and realistic. As I watched the Disney characters come to life on skates, I thought about the phrase, “Dare to Dream.” Something tugged at my heart strings about the idea of teaching every child to dare to dream. More importantly, teaching parents to implement the importance of dreaming early in the minds of their young children. The idea to dream and think BIG.

Children have such wonderful imaginations and ideas of what they want to be when they grow up. For example, our oldest son, Roland said that he would like to be everything ranging from a Fireman, to a dentist, and all of the way up to the heroic Spider-Man. I follow up with words of encouragement, “that sounds great sweetie. You can do it!” I believe in instilling in our children early that if they dream it, imagine it, then they can be it. I also mention to them to think outside of the box (to be creative), but to also realize that it’s going to take hard work and dedication to achieve their dreams.

It’s a difficult for anyone to climb upward and achieve their dreams. Raising young Black men in a world where startling statistics can make one want to run and hide. We live in a country where only 41% of Black men graduate from high school (Schott Foundation for Public Education). This fact alone pushes me to continue to encourage our sons and other young Black men to fight against these odds.

The University System of Georgia’s (USG) African American Male Initiative (AAMI) works to recruit, retain, and graduate Black male college students. “Black men are quite capable of academic achievement, but they need direction regarding the road map to college, which many perceive as common knowledge. For many Black males, the road map often is not clear; nor is it without obstacles. So we focus our efforts on removing the obstacles and providing essential resources – with many devoted USG faculty, staff and administrators working diligently and tirelessly to enhance educational outcomes for these young men,” stated Arlethia Perry-Johnson, AAMI’s founding Project Director.

My Mother-in-Law often reiterates the notion of the power of the tongue. It’s this idea that what you say will come to fruition, which I find happening more often in my life. I’ve started saying the same thing to our children.

I don’t know what the future holds for our boys, but I do know that I will teach them to dream. Every adult in a child’s life plays an important role in their upbringing. As parents, we’re our children’s biggest cheerleaders! We’re their hype-man or woman on stage encouraging them along the way and giving them the confidence they need to succeed.

Unfortunately, it appears that some children don’t have someone in their corner to show them the ropes and give them the guidance they need. I value the work of mentoring programs to help make dreaming BIG possible for children; please support the work of our local and national programs that provide support and guidance for children such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the YWCA. Organizations such as these allow children to dream.

Dare to Dream…

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