Last year, we completed our first full year with the Drug Free Communities grant. We spent the year really getting organized and figuring out how we can help our community. If 2012 was about establishing ourselves, then I see 2013 as being about engagement. Our goal in 2013 is to engage our community in making change. How will we engage more families, businesses, organizations, and our youth? The answer is you. Now don't panic. This is not what you think. At this point, most organizations would be asking for more of your time, money or even blood (think Red Cross). Yes, we could always use more volunteers and we are always willing to take donations, but what we really want is your voice. If we are going to create a healthy environment for our kids, we need to do four things: empower our youth, educate the community, improve our environment and support our neighbors.
Here are some simple things you can do just by using your voice:
Engage our youth in conversation. Next time you see a teen, just say “hello.” Recognize they are there, if you have time start up a conversation. Find out about them, what they like and what they don't like about our community. You may be the only adult they have communicated with all day.
Engage your neighbors and friends. Do they see the same issues and pride in the community that you do? Do they know about LCAT and what we do? Invite them to one of our Community Conversations or to join our Facebook page.
Engage your local government. This year we will be educating our members on issues facing our community. We will be asking you to contact your government officials and let them know how you feel.
Engage with those around you. We all have issues and things to celebrate. No matter what the event, reach out to your friends and neighbors and let them know you care and that you are there for them. Maybe engage in conversation or maybe just sit with them. We never know what people really need until they know you care and are willing to listen.
These are just some small things you can do. The bottom line is to engage people in conversation. Get the word out about the great things happening with LCAT. The more people we get involved in creating a healthy environment for our youth, the more change will occur.