* OUR KIDS, OUR FUTURE *
Our Teenage KIDS are at RISK:
Looking at NY Chinatown today, we see many social and economic problems facing our community. One of the glaring problems that always gets put aside by our community leaders and public officials is the situation that resides concerning our teenage kids.
Younger kids (12 & under) have the priority of strong and caring parental and social care simply because they are young & most vulnerable.
Our teenagers are confronted with family, social, educational and peer to peer pressures. Parents are usually confronted by a sudden independence from family communication, and rules. Changes in social behavior become quick and unexplainable, and mood swings become common place, and many times "kids do not want to listen".
This is the age that is most important. It is the age where most teenagers develop their personality (good or bad). Role models and guidance from family and friends become very important. "Not all our kids do well in school", many are holding on by a string and are on the verge of failing or flunking out. It is a time when teenagers prepare themselves for college.
So much is determined by their friends, or group of friends that they hang out with. Some kids "don't have any friends" and have no one to talk to about their problems. Some kids have the wrong group of friends, where priorities in life are not school but are more self-centered.
How can we help?
We need to give our teenagers a choice. Get them involved with projects other than school. Extra curricular activity outside the school environment is necessary to ensure well roundedness. Meeting the right group of friends become so important. TEAM SPORTS & COMMUNITY SERVICE, RECREATION & INTERACTION with OTHERS, gives the teenager an opportunity. A chance to get exercise, meet new friends , meet friends that he/she can call teammates (life long friends), learn sportsmanship, respect for others, compete physically, to learn how to win and how to lose?, help someone in need and be a part of something.
For many of our teenage kids, schools and parks have become our community centers. This is where they play and hangout. But schools and parks have their limitations. Schools are closed on holidays and weekends and opening them up for recreational activities are expensive & our public parks cannot be used during bad weather conditions. So where can our kids go, without alternatives our kids are most likely to end up in bad situations.
The Uniqueness of NY Chinatown:
In NY Chinatown, Manhattan, our community is truly multi-ethnic, we have ethnic diversity throughout our neighborhood. Teenage kids are faced with having to develop friends and must decide who they are most comfortable with. Ethnic, Cultural and Religious differences in our schools can offer each child a positive experience or a completely negative one. Our schools, parents and friends do a poor job of bridging the gap within our own neighborhoods. From experience, sports and recreation activity together often times can provide a respectful bridge through this diversity.
We need a Community Center in NY Chinatown:
It seems that every ethnic community has a “Community Youth Center” servicing their kids and community residents. In NY Chinatown communities we don’t have any. What we do have are small pockets of groups running programs in small and inadequate overcrowded facilities. Programs such as the “Chinatown YMCA” have had to offer various programs for kids within the confines and restrictions of the public school system. The “United East Athletic Association“ group offers various sporting activities and run their programs out of an old building (formerly P.S. 23). Because of this, our parks & schools have become our community centers that serve the kids and seniors of our community.
Parks and Schools are not enough. Without the proper guidance and activity our kids will be lacking. Community Centers give our kids a chance to succeed in life. A place to meet role models, meet & interact with other kids, and meet new friends.
The choice is always ours.