As the end of 2010 rolls around, taking the time to reflect on the year, your beliefs and values, can perhaps, help the move forward in 2011. It is important that the behaviors we manifest represent the beliefs and values that we have. C4K values caring for others. Research tells us that resiliency is, at least in part, built in a young person because he/she has a positive relationship with a caring adult. What exactly is a caring adult? Is it someone who simply attends to your physical needs? Is it someone who says, “I love you?” Is it someone who spends time with you? Is it someone who believes in you and the possibility of you? The answer to these questions is a resounding, “YES!” Care is to have concern for, to have another’s best interest at heart, to intentionally hold another in unconditional positive regard. Care is not something to be earned by the receiver, it is a gift from the person who does the caring.
Care can be demonstrated intentionally and unintentionally, as well as in small and large expressions. Leo F. Buscaglia puts it this way, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Demonstrating to young people that we genuinely care about them is one of things as youth workers we are all responsible for doing.
Taking care of the young people in our program certainly means that we create a program in which youth are both physically and emotionally safe. Too often we focus on physical safety (essential of course) and turn a blind eye to emotional safety when we ignore bullying, unkind words, ostracism from a team, or young people simply acting as if one of their peers does not exist. As youth workers we must pay attention to both aspects of safety. As we have learned from Maslow’s Hierarchy, when safety needs are not met it is difficult to focus on building relationships and developing self-efficacy.
A few years ago a movie, Pay It Forward, captured the importance of Random Acts of Kindness. As a role model for youth, including them in service learning that will give them an opportunity to “care” for others, is important. Engaging youth in service learning or community service projects will help them) experience caring for others and the way that one feels when you know you have made a difference. Care for the youth that you work with. Celebrate with them and let them know that you are delighted to share a piece of each day with them.
Following are some great quotes that address caring. Consider them as you reflect on your own performance in 2010.
• “I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” Pablo Casals
• “Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge” Benjamin Franklin
• “Caring is a powerful business advantage.” Scott Johnson