To the back of the plane with Youth Issues

Kiem Ho, Class 26
Director of Business Development & Innovation, Laundry Care, Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

Parking lot traffic, pushing and shoving, indifferent and rude airline employees and don’t forget the crying babies make short flights seem like transatlantic treks. Thanksgiving travel can accentuate the worse in people jockeying for even the slimmest of services abandoning the old adage,” women and children first.” Unfortunately, this bad behavior has spilled over into non-Holiday occasions.

Airlines for example are creating “baby ghettos” in the back of the plane seemingly quarantining families from higher paying passengers according to a recent November Wall Street Journal report. In the search of profits amid shrinking budgets, airlines indiscriminately separate small children as young as 3 years old from parents to satisfy adult passengers.

Forgetting and neglecting youth is something not only common to air travel. During our Scottsdale Leadership Youth Issue Day, we learned that youth programs are not as strong as they once were. Early Literacy Programs, First Things First, After School Programs, Peer Teen Mentoring, Mentoring, Teen Employment Services and Teen Suicide Hotline.

All of the above youth issues were presented with passion and fervent invitations for involvement. At the end of the day, our class divided into groups with the hypothetical challenge of prioritizing how we would support each issue. This was done with surprising efficiency and consistency given we did this without any rebuttal from the respective youth issue experts.

So, the thought kept nagging me, what right do we have after only perfunctory discussion to prioritize anything? Our decisions were based on our best rationale. However, would we have decided differently with each youth subject matter expert present? Better yet, would we have decided differently if one of our own children was directly affected by one of these areas?

Eman Yarrow, Regional Director of NE Maricopa from First things First, put it best when he said that “Politicians probably do not support youth issues because youth do not vote”. To this, I would add that today’s youth are not a huge source for political campaigns either. No wonder youth programs are usually the first to go when it comes to budget cuts.

Being a father of three children, I understand that we can easily default to the airline MO of banishing youth issues to the “back of the plane” hoping they sort themselves out. I’ve learned from real life experience that putting off dealing with children issues at hand usually compound the problem later on.

So I ask, what are you willing to give and/or do to restore the support of our youth in Scottsdale for a better future? We, like the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, probably would give anything to be able to drink from that mystical fountain that restores our youth. Yet we have forgotten how much help we needed when we were young. There is so much need. For example, volunteers, particularly male role models are needed for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Phoenix Youth At Risk. There are many more organizations that need help but only you can decide.

Are youth programs in our community vital? Why or why not ?


1 Comment

Filed under Class, Leadership

One response to “To the back of the plane with Youth Issues

  1. As a middle-age (hard to believe, I know) father of a 7-year-old, I have always been very conscious of my daughter’s ability to irritate those around us, and I’m very conscientious about instilling good behavior and manners. She taught me very early (age 2–her age, not mine) that she was ‘trainable,’ and she has responded very well.

    Having said that, I’m also a bit more tolerant in my ‘old age’ of children than I used to be. I have even offered to help on occasion, especially when a solo parent is trying to wrangle multiple kids as my mom often did. Of course, you have to be careful of backlash!

    With regard to Scottsdale’s attitude toward youth issues, our community has historically been a leader in youth programs, particularly those offered through Parks and Rec. Unfortunately, a radical change to the formerly-free after-school program was initiated last year in the name of ‘budget cutting’ that targeted all but wasteful pet projects. I’m encouraged by the new Thrive After Three program, but kids will be left out who were once well served by the City of Scottsdale.


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