Dear Young Person

Dear Young person,

I am writing you this letter to say thank you for allowing me to serve you. It has not always been easy despite me making it look so fun and engaging for you. I have been doing this for a while now and have learned to give you my best even when it gets difficult. And trust me, it has been very hard to help get you to where you need to be.

You see, when I was young, I was in a similar situation as you are today, and I had nobody to help, not even to provide some information that would have made a big difference in my life. So, I stay committed to helping you get through your transition as best as possible. I know very well that being a youth comes with a lot of changes, and I hope that you will know you are not alone.

Just wanted to drop you a few lines so you would know how much you mean to me and understand why I sacrifice so much. I got a better job offer a few times over the years we have been working together, but turned them down. That would have meant, more money and access to better opportunities for my family and I. But, when I considered the opportunities you could not be able to access and the opportunities and services you needed my help to receive, I realized your needs outweighed mine.

I chose to stay until you finished school, then your neighbors and classmates needed my help too, and I kept on serving. So, the day I dropped you to do that exam I silently cried for my father who had just passed away. I delayed my mourning because you needed that support in a moment that could change your life. But, thank you because those moments taught me what professional and personal responsibilities truly were and to value my commitment to others.

Once I got escorted out of a meeting because I stood up for the findings of a study that showed your condition was worsening. From that experience, I learned that truth was not always accepted, but necessary for my own integrity and the true creation of opportunities for your development. My own character has been developed through the principles and practices I have used in helping you, and so now social justice, equality, and ethics have become even more engrained in my work.

Sometimes I feel socially excluded by other groups, organizations, and leaders just as you are. I know how it feels to be ignored, down-graded, unrecognized, not supported, uninvited, and excluded. My work might go unnoticed, but the thanks you give and the pride I feel when you finally get recognized are enough. The many political leaders, youth leaders, technocrats, scholarship awardees, entrepreneurs, academics, mentees, graduates and so many more that I have seen go through our programs and initiatives are the silent thanks that my colleagues and I celebrate.

It humbles me to have been a part of the life of you and your community. And, as I close this letter tired and a little achy from youth month, parent month, community month, and youth work week activities, I had to take the time to give you some advice. Be thankful in everything and say thanks to those around you who work tirelessly to make your life better, encourage and support other young people in any way you can, and when you transition into young adulthood try to help at least one other young person as I have helped you.

Lastly, do your best with the opportunities you have been given and leave the light on and the door open so that other young people coming can get through the challenges of life as you have. Giving back and staying thankful will motivate you to keep striving for greater success. I am always there for you so keep going you are greatness in the making.

ours in Service to Youth,

An Overworked Youth Development Worker

TanYah Global

Jamaica Professional Youth Workers Association

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