Disadvantages Children Have in the Wolf Point Community

Children living in the Wolf Point, Montana area are at a loss when trying to find positive activities in which they can participate. In the last five years, the Wolf Point community has lost the Boys and Girls Club, summer camps, sports for middle school kids, and even school on Fridays. With the lack of resources and things to do, the children of this community are starting to get involved in drugs, alcohol, and crime. Although there are a few people trying to keep resources available to children, it is not enough. Our community needs to work harder to give children the guidance they need. Letting kids roam the streets is not an adequate way to teach them how to grow up to be hard working citizens for our community. We propose that this community work harder to receive grants and funding that will help the children of Wolf Point grow to be respected adults.

While observing our community, we interviewed people who are very active in trying to keep programs like softball, baseball, soccer, and swimming available. One of the community members we interviewed asked that his name not be revealed in the essay. We will refer to him as John Doe. He is very influential in the Wolf Point School District and along with that, he has been working for the City of Wolf Point for 22 years. John Doe agrees that the children in our community do not have enough opportunities. He states, “If [I] could integrate the parents, that would be great because a lot of parents get burnt out. Not many people apply for youth jobs.” He believes that if more parents were to get involved, the stress and pressure on other parents wouldn’t be as severe, and everyone would enjoy volunteering a whole lot more.

Out-of-school time (OST) programs offer a unique opportunity to provide educational support to high-risk children and youth. Wolf Point is a high-risk area where gang activity and drug use are present. This is why it is important for parents to become involved in their children’s lives, because almost all parents who are willing to volunteer in our community are positive role models. When young children are able to interact with these kinds of people, it influences their choices. We are trying to get people in the Wolf Point community to realize that it is important for young children to have those opportunities because it will affect them for the rest of their lives. If the opportunities continue to diminish, children in the Wolf Point community will not be prepared for their future and will end up making bad decisions that will alter their lives.

In the article, The Positive Impact of Attending a Community-Based Youth Program on Child Depressive Symptoms, the author states, “Previous research has demonstrated the positive impact of attending community-based youth programs on child externalizing behavior and academic achievement” (Fite, p. 804). So, not only will children be getting involved in recreational activities and staying out of trouble, they will also be excelling in school. Research shows a strong relationship between parental influences and children’s educational outcomes, from school readiness to college completion (Kim, p. 3). Academic success creates means to achieve goals and rise above struggles, whether they are present in the home or school environment.

We had the opportunity to interview another community member and she asked to remain anonymous. For this essay we will call her Jane Doe. She is a mother to two children in the Wolf Point community and very actively involved with her children. She proposed a solution to our troubles here in Wolf Point, involving the diminishing and overall lack of activities, by stating, “I guess just as a parent you need to be involved in your kids’ life. There are pros and cons to every place that you live. We could all complain about what we don’t have but unless you are actually involved or at least participating, we will never have it.” She and her husband have also set an example for parents and members in the community by taking over certain programs in the Wolf Point community. Although it has brought a lot of responsibility into their lives, she says they do it for the greater good of their children. Both Jane Doe and her husband work full time jobs and yet still manage to run a sports program for a full seven weeks every year. These kinds of people are very important to our community and are positive role models. They try hard, but if other parents don’t start to get involved or help out as well, they will eventually get burnt out. This is something we need to prevent. Anyone should be able volunteer and enjoy doing it.

It is important not to leave children behind because once behind, it is difficult to catch up in all aspects of life, whether it is educational, personal, or physical. It is unacceptable to let children try harmful activities or grow up to be adults who know nothing about how to improve society. We all must work together to help solve a problem that can’t be fixed on its own. Our youth are tomorrow’s leaders, so we must take that extra step and guide them toward a better future. Given that OST programs are bound to communities and neighborhoods, we must begin to enlist community residents in efforts to create supportive and caring environments that have a common goal of positive youth development. We want our community to realize the positive effects of youth programs and to support them.

Kaitlyn Page and Waycen Owens-Cyr are students at Fort Peck Community College.

REFERENCES

Anthony, E. K., Alter, C. F., Jenson, J. M. (2009). “Development of a Risk and Resilience-Based Out-of-School Time Program for Children and Youths.” Social Work 54(1), pp.45-55.

Doe, Jane. Personal Interview. 24 Apr. 2014.

Doe, John. Personal Interview. 24 Apr. 2014.

Fite, P.J., Vitulano, M. L., & Preddy, T. M. (2011). “The Positive Impact of Attending a Community- Based Youth Program on Child Depressive Symptoms.” Journal of Community Psychology 39(7), pp. 804-814.

Kim, C. (2008). “Academic Success Begins at Home: How Children Can Succeed in School”. The Heritage Foundation. <http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/09/academic-success-begins-at-home-how-children-can-succeed-in-school>.

Outley, C., Bocarro, J.N., & Boleman, C.T. (2014). “Recreation as a Component Of The Community Youth Development System”. New Directions for Youth Development. Academic Search Elite. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=6f42378e-be42-4305-9043-d932a3f31943%40sessionmgr4004&vid=1&hid=4110&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=afh&AN=63071799.

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