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Teach your children

March 1, 2008 - Erin O'Neill
Recent news has been filled with the crimes committed by young adults. Locally, there have been drug arrests, robberies, assaults. Nationally, kids are going off the deep end and taking innocent bystanders with them. Blame it on poverty, lack of good mental health programs, gun laws, George Bush, aliens ... whatever. The fact is, our children feel they have been forgotten and we have really dropped the ball as a society.

I grew up in Marietta and then I moved away like a lot of young people. A lot of things had changed by the time I made the decision to move back - businesses are gone along with jobs, drugs are rampant, you really do have to lock your doors now. A lot is still the same. The people are genuinely nice, the community is quaint. But as I was growing up, I dealt with a lot of the same things our teens are dealing with now. We had school budget cuts and poverty. The drug problem was beginning to rear its ugly head. More emphasis was placed on bringing in tourists than providing an outlet for our teens with problems at home. Luckily, I had marching band and community theater to keep me busy and out of trouble, for the most part. There were some efforts being made by folks in the community and there still are. But, too often, the public is not aware of these efforts.

One such project, which I am personally involved with, is the effort of a group of young folks to rebuild the skateboard park at Indian Acres. I have never seen such a determined group of kids. Their enthusiasm is contagious. However, because they ride skateboards and have funny clothes or hairstyles, they are viewed as punks, hoodlums, trouble makers. This stereotype is propagated because others have not made an effort to talk to them, get to know them and their cause. But they are exactly the type of kids that we need in this community. They are working against the stigma and working for change. They are working to better their society ... and have a little fun at the same time.

They come from all different backgrounds. Some live on farms. Some are honor students. Others attend college or have 9 to 5 jobs. They are male and female, pre-teens and thirty-somethings and they are our friends and neighbors. I applaud the work these kids have done to raise money on their own. I salute those who have decided to get involved and help them out. The area's problem with drugs and unemployment isn't going to be cured overnight and front page headlines of youth in trouble aren't going to suddenly disappear. But knowing that there are some young people working hard to change their destiny makes me proud to have moved back home.

 
 

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