Every Child Matters
Did you know..
•Louisiana has one of the worst teenage pregnancy rates in the nation. By and large, these pregnancies are by choice. Overwhelming when asked why this was their choice: “I just wanted someone to love me” is the reply.
•Many teenage boys have fathered multiple children by the time they are 21. When asked why, most of them say they just want to have their life mean something to someone.
•Murder is the number one cause of death in Louisiana for African-American teens, ages 15-24, the second leading cause of death for all teens and youth nationwide. In New Orleans, the majority of the shooters are younger than the victims, often doing the bidding of adults, in a kill or be killed scenario.
•Suicide is the third leading cause of death among all young people ages 10 to 24. Many teens when spoken to about the future, tell counsellors they don’t expect to have a future.
•Homicide and Suicide account for more deaths among young people than all other natural causes of death, such as disease and birth defects, COMBINED.
This Disease of Despair has reached epidemic proportions and it is killing our children, our future. But there is hope, for there is a light shining into the darkness of the urban night, at the very apex of our city. APEX Youth Center offers teens a safe, positive, loving and structured place to learn, to dream and to grow. APEX averages 40 to 80 kids every day, where they always receive a healthy snack and a hug. We do a sit-down dinner on Thursday nights, feeding up to 60 hungry teens. Every Saturday we do a community cook-out, feeding up to 100 family members. Teens come from all over the city to APEX to learn how to look at the world and their fellow human being in a different way. The over-riding theme is “Reconciliation, Never Retaliation”. This type of social learning through behaviour modelling has been shown to be one of the most effective means to develop high and long-term success in diverse demographics. That’s the clinical terminology. We know it as being the hands and feet of Christ for the world.
One day I teased a carload of young men, as we were on our way to church, “So, why do you all want to come to church with this old lady?”. “You are the first person to ever ask us.” was the reply. One of the inspirations for APEX came a few years ago when a girl of 14 told me I was the first person to ever tell her she was precious, the first person to ever let her know that she mattered. I was completely struck. I vowed then that I would do everything in my power to never let another child in my community think they do not matter.
Join us in making this possible. Join us in our goal of Every Child Matters, as we reach children in our community and give them the tools and resources they need to succeed. Join us for our Grand Opening of our new APEX Youth Center this Saturday, Sept. 10 at noon. Sign up to volunteer, cook a meal, or sponsor an activity. To find out more about how you can help, please visit come by or visit our website at www.ApexYouthCenter.org.
Executive Director, APEX Community Advancement, Inc.