For kids, freedom means opportunity |

For kids, freedom means opportunity

YouthZoneNancy MacGregorGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Standing at the pump, watching the numbers soar, I thought to myself: “There goes my shoe shopping money again, in the tank. What’s up with the high prices still? This is so unfair. …” Then I saw it. Facing the station was the back of an older house, paint chipping off the brick, cracks down the wall, antlers perched on the porch and a rusty wind chime by the door. But what caught my eye was the flag, a small tattered American flag on a stick, poking out from a second-story window. It was obviously a child’s window, as it also displayed a few cutout snowflakes and a faded paper pumpkin. But the flag – it was the greatest flag I have ever seen. It clearly said: “I am a young person, I am free, and I am proud to be an American.” All I could think about was how cool it is that kids appreciate their freedom, and feel it’s important to show that. Today’s youth have freedoms some of us never dreamed of having. And yes, sometimes they are taken too far. But in America, we as parents have a responsibility to instill and nurture the respect our children have for their country, the opportunities they are given, and the protection provided for us. At YouthZone, one of the things we do is help young people realize they have an abundance of opportunities: the opportunity to start over again and be given a second chance at success, the chance to make right when they have done wrong, the ability to create more positive relationships, and the freedom to contribute to society and be who they really want to be. Through YouthZone programs and classes, mentoring and coaching, we work at opening doors for kids so they can realize their potential and make positive choices. And most importantly, so they can use their gift of freedom to better themselves and the world around them.As flags fly this Fourth of July, whether they be big and bold, or small and tattered, take a minute to talk with your kids about freedom. Help them realize how great one person’s contribution to our country can be. You never know, they just might put out their own flag. Enjoy the celebration! Nancy MacGregor is YouthZone Pals Mentoring Program case manager.

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