When I was a child, one of the many things I loved about Scarborough was the winter time. Rolling giant snowballs, sledding, and having snowball fights were some of the things I loved about winter. With all of that fun, there were some days where the snow was so deep that I had a hard time just walking from one place to another.
What I ended up learning was that the easiest way for me to travel through the deep snow was to follow in the footsteps of the bigger person, because they could create an easier path for me. Sometimes I would even find footsteps that someone had long left behind and travel in those. What I didn’t realize was that this simple scenario is an example of what it is to have a role model in life.
I’ve seen that having a role model gives youth someone accessible that they can talk to, listen to and learn from, and an artistic outlet such as music or poetry lets youth know that they make an impact and that their voices have the power to make change. Sometimes that role model can be someone just to chill out with on a positive vibe, or the artistic pursuit can just be a means to vent, but having those resources in place makes a world of difference.
Joining the RISE (Respect In Schools Everywhere) program offered by East Metro Youth Services gave me a place where I could go to talk, chill or work. Writing and performing poetry helped me get things out of my system as well as make an impact on people. Running anti-violence workshops made me become a role model in my school and gave me the responsibility to act as one. My vision is to become a high school English teacher, which combines my passion for writing and desire to see youth succeed.
Machiavelli made a case for the ends justifying the means in all things, but when it comes down to youth it’s not just about what you do, but also how you do it. I believe that if you do the best you can, with what you have, for who you can, change will be made. That’s why I imagine a city where every young person can have a positive role model to help them realize their dreams. The role model I speak of is not just a famous politician, freedom fighter, humanitarian or philanthropist. I imagine a city where there is a local, accessible role model for every single youth.
Do you have a role model who was instrumental in your life? Leave a comment about who they were and why they had such a big impact on you. You can also hear more of Kadeem’s story in this short video: