If you live in the Phoenix area, you have most likely heard about the tragedy that took place on May 11, 2015 at a local high school – Corona Del Sol. Marcus, an 18 year old senior and athlete, brought a gun to school with the sole purpose of ending his life on campus. In situations like this, we usually look for signs to see if it could have been prevented. The crushing reality of this tragedy is that this boy was calling for help via social media before it happened. On Twitter, he made statements about his life falling apart, being stressed, wanting his old life back, asking for help, and finally, revealing that there would be a suicide at his school that day. That last tweet was met with a cyber bully egging him on to go through with it…
Stories like these (and there are a lot of them – none any less significant than others) break my heart and drive me to keep leading. As the surrounding community, we cannot be okay with this because every person has value. We cannot only “feel bad” about it and do nothing. Sympathy is just the start… but there needs to be some sort of responsiveness.
As we are wrapping up our spring T1L1 classes, I have received numerous notes and comments from students, teachers, and parents about the impact our mentors and principles have made on their lives. And I can’t help but think, “What if Marcus had been a T1L1 student?” What if he was able to be mentored by a loving adult and in turn could write a similar note like some of the following that I’ve received from students?…
- “You taught me how to settle down when I’m angry, and when I’m depressed you taught me there’s more to life…”
- “You made me realize that in order to respect someone, you need to respect yourself first.”
- “It’s been a really hard year for me and I really appreciate how you would come over and make an effort to talk to me or smile whenever I was down. I’m going to miss how you would actually give me attention and time.”
In the past 2 weeks, I’ve had parents tell me that they could see a difference in their child each week. I’ve had teachers and school administrators explain to me how blown away they are by the change they’ve seen taken place because of the relationships the kids built with T1L1 mentors. One student said that Teach One to Lead One was the most helpful thing for students at school! Another student was begging me to let him be a mentor so that he could help other students the way we’ve helped him (he is 13!).
The day after the tragedy at Corona Del Sol, other students from surrounding schools in the Phoenix area stepped up to show support – sending a message of hope, love, and peace. It is amazing to see how such a sad event can motivate people to rally together for a cause. And if hundreds of teenagers can rally together as the result of this tragic event, how much more should we rally together as adults to literally save the lives of hurting kids!
Our purpose does not come as a result of this tragic event, although it is a motivator. Instead, we exist to transform at-risk youth into upright citizens because we believe that every child has value, potential, and a purpose for their life.
There is a crisis among the youth of Arizona, the United States, and all around the world… a crisis that cannot be easily fixed or covered up with a band-aid. These kids need caring adults who will take the risk and be a presence in their life. Will you join me?
“Be a mentor. In order to stand out in life, you have to stand up for someone who can’t stand for themselves.” -Senator Tim Scott