girl stand near Ace storefront under cloudy sky during daytime

Today’s youth are bombarded with sex, drugs, and alcohol. They are encouraged to speak and dress a certain way. They are even instructed on what type of friends they should have. Everywhere they look these images are looking right back at them. They are seen on the television and internet, blasted over the radio, and plastered on billboards. The media is such a strong influence on their everyday lives.

What do you do when you don’t fit in? What do you do when you’re criticized for being friends with the “different girl”? What do you do when you’re being peer pressured to do drugs or have sex? What do you do when you feel like there is no one you can talk to and you feel like you have no family at home? These are the questions that today’s youth are asking themselves every day.

Without proper guidance, love, support, and positive role models, the media becomes their mentors. Although the media is not completely at fault, for there is positive media, it is a direct influence. As a result, much of the youth turn to the streets, develop low self-esteem, negative body image, and a plethora of other social and emotional issues.

Too many young people have lost their lives to violence, drug/alcohol abuse, and suicide. It is saddening to see so many young men on the corner selling drugs especially when they feel they do not have any other choice. They feel trapped by their circumstance. This behavior typically leads to gang participation. Countless teens are murdered each year due to gang wars. Drugs and alcohol are two of many things that teens like to experiment with. Many of them do not think about the consequences. In addition to being the root cause of many traffic accidents, and violent assaults, they also greatly affect the overall character of a person. Although it may not be immediate, a person’s attitude, demeanor, and work ethic takes a turn for the worse once they become dependent on either drugs or alcohol.

Bullying has become a huge issue today. With increased technology, the methods and effects of bullying has been magnified. Not only is it happening in school yards, but on the internet for millions of people to see. With a click, a person’s life can be destroyed. The youth are bullied for many different reasons such as being too smart, not being smart enough, not coming from a rich family, being disabled, being homosexual, or just being different.

Raising a child begins at home. However, many children spend most of their time away from home at school and with their peers. We are living in a time where most parents, father and mother, maintain professional careers. There are also many single parents who must work to provide for their family. Furthermore, the rise of teenage parenting has become a great issue. Parents need help. The youth need positive encouragement and people to look up to, creative outlets, acceptance, discipline, and awareness of consequences. Not only do they need a place where they can be nourished, but also a place where they can give back as well. This is where youth programs come in. In any given city, there is a wide range of youth programs providing services for the community. Below are a few programs that are committed to helping the youth learn, grow, and succeed.

Teen Reality Theatre– Buffalo, NYThe Teen Reality Theatre seeks to replace fear, shame, and risky behavior with education, information and personal responsibility. We are teens helping Teens. The program writes and performs their own educational skits on several topics. The group consists of approximately 12-15 high school students from all over the Buffalo area. They are educated by professional educators from Planned Parenthood on topics such as safe sex, contraceptives, birth control, communication methods, and the male and female anatomy.

National Down Syndrome SocietyThe mission of the National Down Syndrome Society is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The society envisions a world in which all people with Down Syndrome can enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities.

Black Planet Africa-AfricaThere mission is to show Africa to the rest of the World. They want to share African culture, lifestyle, achievement, and products. They are ready to keep the rest of the world updated with Africa. They are also a humanitarian group rendering support to the underprivileged in their communities. Founded by Jude Nebo (also the International Writer for Urban Centric).

Community Support Services and Recreation–Buffalo, NY

Heritage Centers offers a Teenage Awareness Program (TAP) designed for young women between the ages of 13 to 21. The purpose of TAP is to promote pregnancy prevention, build self- esteem, social skills and positive relationships. TAP is open to City of Buffalo residents only. The Intensive Parenting Training Program (IPT) focuses on parenting skills for parents with developmental disabilities, who have children from birth to 13 years old. IPT concentrates on child development, nutrition, discipline and family budgeting. Childcare and transportation are provided during program hours. IPT is open to City of Buffalo residents only. 

“I come to work knowing that there will be boys and girls here that will be considered adults soon that need guidance and I will lead by example.” -Darius Dixon

E.S.C.A.P.E 2 Destiny (Explore, Sacrifice, Conquer, Accept, Prepare & Excel…) Is a multifaceted and multicultural organization that uses the arts as a catalyst to engage and challenge people to Explore, Sacrifice, Conquer, Accept, Prepare, and Excel oneself to reach true, divine destiny. E.S.C.A.P.E uses all art forms such as: dancing, theater, fashion, writing, and many more to push people to true self-discovery and breakthrough. This organization is dedicated to telling people’s stories, giving the silent a voice, awakening an inner place, and embracing divine truth. If you’re ready for true freedom, just simply ESCAPE! Founded by Jonathan Johnson

Tamara Jackson
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Tamara Jackson was born in Houston, TX and raised in Buffalo, NY. At an early age, she realized her love for words. She began writing poetry which evolved into songs, then skits, then plays, then screenplays. Currently, Tamara is a graduate student at Savannah College of Art and Design where she is working towards her MFA in performing arts. She is writing her first book. (Update: She graduated from SCAD in 2012).

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