Why is our work with at-risk youth such a big part of our mission? This should help paint the picture of the future our children face...
Today, about one in eight individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.
,The southern states have struggled with escalating joblessness, and declining education for decades so it isn't surprising to see this report and infographic from Wallethub.com, with the state of Georgia coming in at number 11.
The growth in numbers of at-risk youth is troubling, especially since state budgets for programs to address the many facets that lead to the cause have been shrinking as fast as the numbers have grown. In the decades prior, the military was option and often provided the structure, discipline and family-like bonds that could be so valuable to help change these young lives for the better, that option, however, is dwindling:
"According to a report from Mission: Readiness, for instance, 71 percent of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military due primarily to a lack of basic academic skills, criminal records or health issues such as obesity and diabetes. Research shows that environments where such problems are most prevalent often increase an adolescent's risk of adverse outcomes, including economic hardship, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood."
Most of us with children take it for granted that we have a warm home with no shortage of food, and clean clothes. We take for granted the simple act of yelling up the stairs to get our kids moving along so they don't miss the bus. We pick them up and watch them at practice after school, or shuttle them around to events with their friends. We watch proudly as they accept awards, and grow into responsible, functional, happy adults.
The children that reside at Sunkissed Acres under Lori's care are often receiving their first glimpse of what family really is, what structure is, what it feels like to be respected and to learn to give respect in return. They receive clothes, food, their medications, and are taught to be responsible for themselves. They haven't experienced what we all live with each day, their young lives have been very, very different. But with Lori's guidance, and the connection of horses to heal these beautiful children, new beginnings and hope filled futures can be attainable, in whatever form meets the unique needs of the child. Some will need a helping hand to guide them throughout their lives, others will fly on their own wings, but each will have a solid foundation after leaving the farm.
Programs for youth are vital to their success, and even more so for children living with adverse circumstances. We are grateful to play a part in ensuring their positive growth and life successes.