Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Cleveland. The luncheon included the top three speeches from a recent contest that the Rotary hosted for several local high school students. The winner of the contest will represent our city at the regional finals.The young man who won gave an unbelievable speech about living a non-violent life. He mesmerized the room. He is a senior from John Marshall High School, and his speech gave the entire room amazing hope. His speech reminded me why we need to be teaching our kids to become future leaders.
He was articulate, poised, and passionate about his topic. He explained that violence served no purpose. He cited an example of how a friend had been killed and how it affected him and his school. It was emotional and heartfelt.
The young man made me think about the harsh and cruel realities that some young people face today. It made me nervous and uncertain about some of the young people that are going to inherit our city. How are they going to handle the challenges and choices that will need to be made? This speech and this young man gave me hope. He was a solid leader and had his head was on straight (old-fashioned term).
This young man obviously had a mentor or mentors or someone in his life that taught him about peace. Someone instilled in him that life doesn’t have to be violent. Watching violent programs, playing violent video games, and participating in violence is a choice, and one can choose not to participate in these activities.
This young man made me think about what we are doing as a community to make sure our young people are prepared. Are we teaching our young people the difference between right and wrong? Are we preparing them for the world that can be harsh and unfair? Are we teaching them how to make good choices under rough conditions? Are we teaching them how to make good choices or good excuses? Are we leading by example? Can we do a little better job “walking the walk?”
If you have an opportunity to teach young people about the importance of being leaders, making good choices and respect, seize the opportunity. You will not only be investing in the future of our city, you will be investing in the future of our youth. It takes a village!
Colleen Harding is a certified etiquette and protocol instructor and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. Programs and packages available for children and businesses.