When I grew up there was a sense of community; everybody on the block knew each other. If you got in trouble on the block and the neighbors knew about it your parents knew about it. Now-a-days they call that snitching, but I think it was more like looking out for each other. I think the difference between the community looking out for each other and snitching is when I grew up the community had a sense of family. That sense of family made it okay for Mrs. Johnson from down the block to scold you because Mrs. Johnson knew you, your family, and your family’s family. I think another thing that is missing from the community and today’s youth is respect. When I grew up you not only respected Miss Johnson, you had the fear of God in you if you ever thought of disrespecting her. If you disrespected Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Johnson would tell you about yourself and then you would have to deal with your own parents.
Now-a-days people watch as others blatantly disrespect each other. Not only do they watch, they video tape it and put it on the internet. People can be in front of others being disrespected and they will walk right pass like nothing was going on; like it happened all the time. People will sit back and watch guys abuse their spouses and sit back and laugh. There is no concern with the victim; in this generation people’s first instinct is to pull out their phones and get it on camera or act like nothing is happening. I, myself, am not blameless; in my teens and early twenties I have witness all types of violence and stood there and acted like nothing was going on. These are the types of behaviors that I would like to reverse; I would like to return to that sense of community.
When I was a kid, you couldn’t walk past a park in the summer without seeing organized sports programs. There were community organized Baseball Leagues, Soccer Leagues, and Basketball League. No matter what area you were in, in the summer, everybody was outside. There were block parties and cookouts. I can remember block parties where the neighbors would block off both sides of the block, sometimes for multiple blocks, and you couldn’t see from one end of the street to the other. You couldn’t see five feet in front of you on some occasions. Today, at a block party, you will be lucky if twenty-five percent of the block participates. You may have like five people on the block barbequing and a couple of groups of people hanging out. I would like to return to how it was before. I want everybody to be able to come together and hang out without worrying about which crews are beefing, who’s got a gun, or who’s going to get shot.
As the founder of The Big Bear Hug Inc., one of the visions for the future is to establish recreational and community centers, develop organized sports programs, art programs, skill development programs, mental health education programs, and talent shows. I would like to partner with school districts to begin to educating on mental health. I like to be able to speak to high school student on different mental illnesses and mental illness symptoms. I believe that a lot of people have misconceptions about mental illness. We all see the obvious cases, but there are people that look just like everybody else that suffer from mental illnesses. Because of the negative stigmas related to mental illness people are reluctant to acknowledge and accept mental health diagnoses. I believe that by educating teens early on, myths and stigmas will no longer exist. People would have a better understanding of the different mental illnesses and would be able to recognize them if they or someone else started to suffer. A lot of times people have no idea what is happening to them at the onset of a mental illness. Most time it’s not until an individual is in crisis before they know what is going on. Through my program, I would like to better prepare individuals, and give them the tools and resources in case something ever does happen. School stress the importance of physical health and I believe that mental health is just as important, if not more important.
Through The Big Bear Hug Inc., I would also like to establish art programs. I know a few years ago the school’s art and sports programs were in jeopardy of being shut down. I believe that these programs are every important. For some individuals it provides a creative release; an opportunity to express themselves in different ways. Prisons all across the country are filled with individuals with artistic talent; song writers, script writers, authors, illustrators, and painters. These individuals may have never ended up in the situations they are in if someone acknowledged and nurtured these talents. Team sports teach kids how to work together as a unit and the spirit of completion. These art and sports programs may take kids of the streets and put their talents to productive use. I would like to be able to give kids a place to develop their artistic and athletic skills. I, myself, am good at drawing cartoons and different things, and I have always wanted to be able to be in an art class, but was never able. Through The Big Bear Hug Inc. I would like to give kids the chance to cultivate their art, music, poetry, theater, and dance. I would like to provide a place to develop all these skills. Maybe devote one day a week to each art or have a building big enough to house all the programs at once.
If I was able to partner with the school districts I would also like to try to one day develop a city wide (and neighboring suburbs) talent show. Like an Urban Idol, where all the school compete. It would be like a tournament, starting in the individual schools, then battling against the schools in the individual district, then the districts battle each other, and then the winners from all over the city would battle. I would like to have a grand prize give away at the end. I think that this will help promote the arts in schools and people’s togetherness.
I would like to have skill development programs, to equip the youth with tool for success. A lot of people show up for interviews in jeans and t -shirts with sneakers on and wonder why they can’t get a job. A lot of youth don’t know appropriate dress for interviews or even jobs. Most can’t even create a resume; some can’t properly form a sentence, let alone a paragraph. Some kids don’t understand appropriate language to use in interview settings or on jobs. I would like to work with the youth on preparing themselves for careers not just some job. I would like to work with young adults on finances, budgeting, and planning for the future. I want to work with the youth to create well rounded adults.
These are the goals for The Big Bear Hug Inc. to grow and better the community. I want to bring back that sense of community; bring back that sense of family. I want to restore the respect that passed generations had throughout the communities. I want to be able to bring back the fun to the neighborhoods, and in turn I think that will bring back the life in these communities. Through The Big Bear Hug Inc. I would like to heal and revitalize these neighborhoods. These programs are geared toward creating more togetherness. A community where everyone knows and watches out for their neighbors. I want to bring back people’s pride in their neighborhoods. Through youth programs I hope to create a better tomorrow, and maybe spark the mind of the next great community leader. Today’s spark, may ignite tomorrow’s flame.