Bold Ideas from the Children's Summit 2009

With a clear, articulated, common vision it is possible to achieve real change for our children:  The goal at the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso was “All students who enroll in our schools will graduate from high school fluently bilingual, prepared to enter a four year college or university.”   With this goal, the district went from the lowest performing to the highest performing urban district in Texas.

Inspire Creativity:  A grant program was announced to support the implementation of creative ideas by faculty and staff.  Many more grant requests were received than funds available.  Inspired by the idea of doing what is best for kids,  many applicants who did not receive funding still went on to implement their creative ideas.

Give people the tools they need to do the work:  Facilities were poor in Ysleta Independent School District and the maintenance department was blamed.  But the maintenance department was literally given proper tools to improve to do the work, the workers became efficient, outspent their supply budget and the schools’ physical plant was vastly improved.

A Caring Adult Makes a Difference:  Every youth on the panel emphasized that the importance of having an adult who cares about them, encourages them and is invested in them has been important to their success.   The caring adults in their lives gave them the support to believe in themselves and to work hard even if other people put them down.

Little things make a difference:  When a youth goes to compete in a basketball game and his uniform doesn’t fit and is old and grungy, he knows they don’t have a chance.  The same is true with getting the old book.   These little things say to the youth that they aren’t worth it.

Don’t Prejudge Youth: It is wrong to decide who what a youth is like based on where they live, their ethnic background, the clothes they wear.  Just because a kid is wearing red, doesn’t mean that he is in a gang – maybe he just likes red.

Show Youth the Possibilities:  If a youth isn’t shown college is an option  (or is told it is not)  because of immigration status, lack of opportunity to take A-G requirements or Advanced Placement courses, they won’t see themselves getting there.

It is Possible to Achieve Great Things with Intention and Commitment:  One of the greatest allies of transformation is intention and commitment to making change. Making bold, important change can be hard –if it was easy, we would be doing it all the time.  The fact that it is hard is why, if you really want to change something, or bring something into being, you’ve got to make the commitment to accept the change as the challenge that it is.

Set Goals that are SMART: Specific , Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound.  To access our Commitment Action Form click here:  www.kidsincommon.org/ . . .

Heed the words of Nobel Laureate Gabriela Mistral:  Many things we need can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, his mind is being developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow.  His name is today.

In the words of Barack Obama,  “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”  Together we can make a difference for our children, youth and families.