Latimore: Use education, arts this summer to reach youth

July 4, 2014 

Back in the day when folks my age were growing up, we were involved in so many school, summer and extracurricular activities that we didn’t have too much idle time on our hands. In addition to that hustle and bustle, our job as children was to attend school and do our chores.

During summer, the learning was expanded by attending camps, traveling and working in the garden. Nowadays, it doesn’t seem like this type of programming is in the average child’s pursuit.

We must find a way to get back to the basics with our young people, especially the at-risk ones, in order for them to embrace a well-rounded lifestyle. Although I didn’t become an Oscar-award winning actress, I participated in so many plays from elementary to high school. Taking part in such productions helped to shape my oratorical skills.

Currently, I’m not in a band or the symphony, but I did learn how to play the clarinet. Despite the fact that I didn’t become an Olympic runner, I ran the 880-meter in high school during track and field season. While I’m no Pablo Picasso, as a youth, I created visual art that ranged from paintings to ceramic sculptures.

All of these experiences have kept me occupied and helped me learn my strengths and weaknesses. Essentially, the exposure has had a tremendous impact on my life as an adult. The savoir-faire has definitely increased my survival skills in a world full of obstacles and struggles.

These are some of the basic fundamentals we can use to help increase the literacy rate and decrease the negative energy that breeds violence and killings amongst our youth in Middle Georgia.

At all costs, we have the ability to embrace and teach these youngsters. Many of them come from all walks of life, and the solution doesn’t lie with just prosecuting and incarcerating them. The gap must be bridged with knowledge and understanding.

Neighborhood apprenticeships were a powerful tactic used in the past. My father learned carpentry and painting from the late Albert Billingslea, founder of Billingslea Construction. In his late teens and as an adult, he was always able to use these skills to make extra money.

In order to teach our young people a sense of independence, I have claimed a responsibility to expose these tender-aged youth to the arts, entrepreneurship and untold history. This approach will not solve all of our problems. However, it is a strategic plan.

What’s your requisition, and how can you apply it to create solutions to eliminate the ills that are haunting our society?

Yolanda “Y-O” Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts, Macon’s representative on the Knight National Arts Advisory Board and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. Contact her at ylatimore@gmail.com.

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