More youth leadership encouraged

Rhonda S. Sanders — Reporter

Rhonda S. Sanders — Reporter

For the past ten years, one sure sign of spring for me was receiving a notice about the annual clean-up of the Flint Township Park. It was spearheaded by Dr. Peter Mikelens, a member of The Gleaner, Greater Flint Area Arbor (a fraternal organization), which underwrote costs for the event.

For the past few weeks, I have been fretting that the notice would not come this year, because Mikelens, 70, died last August. But, thankfully, the notice about the 10th annual cleanup arrived just as I sat down to write this column about much-needed and welcomed youth leadership.

A scaled-down park clean-up from 10-11 a.m. on May 5 this year will be spearheaded by Mikelens widow – Millie Wint – keeping alive Mikelens legacy for at least another year.

For eight years, the clean-up was called Join Hands Day. Last year, the name was changed to Youth Action Day. In hindsight, that was a clear call to highlight youth volunteer activism. Youth workers have always been involved in the clean-up – specifically the Faith Missionary Church Youth Group and the Country Clovers 4-H Club of Genesee County. Last year, 27 youth worked alongside 12 adults contributing 160 hours of labor valued at $2.600, Mikelens reported.

So my fingers were crossed, hoping that the seed had been planted – that young volunteers would step into the void left by Mikelens to continue park upkeep.

It underscores the need to nurture youth involvement and leadership in all aspects of society.

It was encouraging to see youth leaders emerge in the guncontrol reform movement after the horrific high school shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14.

On February 22, former President Barack Obamas tweeted: “Young people have helped lead all our great movements. … Tragedy has given birth to a new generation of student activists.”

Marches, protests, sit-ins and walk-outs played a big part of my youth.

My hope is that adults my age are concerned about passing the baton to the next generation. In my field -journalism – I am especially concerned about how much the profession has changed. Professionals in other fields probably can identify roles and holes they hope younger people will step up to fill.

The future belongs to our youth. There is a clear need to Join Hands across generations so that vital societal causes continue to be supported.

Rhonda Sanders is a staff writer here at View Newspaper Group.

Contract her at rsanders@mihome.

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