Helping parents help their children!
As Chairman of the Reach Into Cultural Heights (RICH) organization located in Queens, we celebrated our 20th anniversary in September 2011. I chose to work with this organization because of its emphasis on helping young people learn to use language to express meaning and purpose in their lives, as well as the organization’s focus on working with parents to help guide their children.
The RICH mission is to collaborate with individuals, families and institutions that are focused on building character and developing leadership skills in youth. This is achieved by engaging youth classroom settings and by using technology to reinforce communication skills. It’s a blended approach; and our commitment is to train students to express new attitudes about their abilities to set realistic academic goals and respectable social standards. The program Reach For Success was first introduced at The City University of New York (CUNY), The York College campus, in the early 1990’s and is now being facilitated by graduates of the program.
As a journalist, I was intrigued by the organization’s work with youth and how they used learning materials from the National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP). The NVLP mission is “To ensure that the wisdom of our country’s extraordinary African American elders is preserved by and passed on to the young people who will lead us tomorrow.” RICH uniquely uses the NVLP website to enrich students understanding of putting forth effort to succeed in school and beyond. The “Wisdom of Elders” project provided examples of overcoming life’s obstacles. It also provides the answer that RICH looked for in its search to reinforce its Reach for Success program principles. RICH introduces the wisdom and guidance of elders to inspire today’s youth.
The Reach for Success youth program also interviews local elders to experience meeting, speaking and learning from and with them. In the capacity of a local Elder, in 2009, I had the opportunity to encourage these young people during a taped interview with them the same year that I became a RICH board member.
RICH believes in transforming the behavioral attitudes of our youth by offering parent workshops. Using the RICH program principles, these workshops focus on guiding parents to create meaningful conversations with their children at home. RICH views the importance of working with parents as a critical social environmental issue, particularly during the difficult adolescent middle school years. In the spring and fall of 2011, RICH Parent Investment Alliance (PIA) offered workshops under the theme: Our children, our greatest investment. This was accurately stated by parent Alfred Moss who pointed out that such parent training helped him realize that there was another way of getting his daughter’s attention. He no longer needed to yell when he’s frustrated with her; but instead he engages her using the RICH principles. Another parent, Lawrence Haywood said ‘my investment shapes my child’.
What I find most promising is that under the PIA program “Our Children Our Greatest Investment”, RICH is leading the way by offering parents a solution to changing the conversation with their children. Too often we talk about a myriad of problems with our youth. We speak about what isn’t being done and what needs to be done. Here we have an organization which saw a problem, and created a solution for youth and parents. With a track record of almost twenty years, why haven’t we heard about this work? Because quite frankly, we have been focused for the past 40 years on what’s not working for urban youth!
As the current Chairperson for RICH, it is with great honor that I am leading an effort to provide solutions to problems encountered by parents today. What’s unique about RICH is that it guides parents to help their children become productive citizens. What makes this work visionary, is that parents are introduced to the Reach for Success program principles with techniques on modeling language to guide their children to become successful learners in school and in life.
Parents and guardians who are seeking to guide their children away from negative attitudes need support; and RICH is uniquely qualified and willing to help them.
Chairman, RICH Inc.