I recently attended a County-wide culminating event that recognized the power of the village- family, friends, mentors, schools, support services, community-based organizations, non-profits, policy-makers, government entities, corporate partners, board members, Principals, Teachers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, etc.- and the positive impact that can be had on the growth and development of a child and youth, when all of the stakeholders are on board.
This experience really drove home the importance of having a trusted village that rallies around our youth academically, socio-emotionally, and as it relates to the development of their character. When you think of your son, daughter, nephew, niece, cousin, etc., who does that village comprise of? Who comes to mind? Is it only immediate or extended family members? Close friends? If so, I challenge you to expand that village circle a bit (could be coach, mentor, neighbor, shop owner, etc.) to ensure that your son, daughter, cousin, nephew, niece, etc. have people that are intentionally a part of their ecosystem, to help foster their growth and development as young men and women, beyond the classroom and your home.
Growing up in Barbados I remember the days where if you didn’t speak to someone while walking through my neighborhood on my way to primary school in St. Thomas, before I could get home, I would hear about it from my guardian. Some may argue that the neighborhood “Shirley,” or “Nancy,” or whatever you would like to name her was too much of a meddler in people’s business- we all know that one person that was always stationed by their front house window or door, watching everyone as they pass up and down the road.
Yet, they too formed a part of my village growing up because she held me accountable for being courteous to those I come into contact with, whether I wanted to speak to them, or not lol. At the time, it may have seemed and felt annoying to be called out before I could even take off my school clothes, but that experience taught me one thing- people were watching and I had to be mindful of what I did, how I did it, and how I carried myself, because I was reflective of my parents and guardians. “Malicious Shirley,” though annoying at the time, was a part of my village and helped keep me in check and at times, out of trouble.
As I mentioned before, the village does not only comprise of immediate or extended family members; it includes your child’s classroom teachers, athletic coaches, club coaches/leaders, neighbors, community-based organizations that they are a part of, store owners they see on a daily basis, your friends, mentors, non-blood related family, even the boys on the block, etc.
The only message I want to drive home through this piece is to be reflective on who makes up your child’s village and to make sure it is as diverse as it is wide- that they are people who cater not only to your child’s academic development, but also to their social, emotional, mental, and character development, as the future leaders and change agents of our nation.
It still, takes the village to really raise a child. Who makes up yours?