The transition of youth from high school to adulthood should be a time of dreams and expectations, but for many it is one of anxiety and frustration, according to LSU AgCenter 4-H character education expert John Arceneaux.
The youth are unprepared, unsupported and lack direction. Some even lack hope. Arceneaux says they don’t have the skills, supports, experience, education or confidence that is needed.
"It will be difficult for these young people to secure jobs with a future and to advance beyond low-wage work," Arceneaux says, adding, "The odds are greater they will break the law or be victims of crime."
He notes that adequate housing will be difficult to find and the young adults will likely live in poverty in under-resourced communities. Their inability to build economic security will make it hard for them to provide for their children.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, in its 2004 "Kids Count Data Book," documents these findings. It also identifies three basic connections young people need, regardless of their background or financial status, to transition to and through young adulthood successfully.
The report says the youth "need the guidance, the time and often the financial help of a stable, secure family. They need to connect with wider communities to access other mentoring adults and real-life options. They also need access to education and experiences that provide them with a foundation of learning, life skills and credentials that can help them gain the knowledge and confidence needed to succeed."
Where can you find help to connect your children? Arceneaux says Louisiana 4-H is framed by these connections, and youth learn while having fun. In 2004, more than 175,683 Louisiana youth, grades K-12, participated in 4-H. They were and are part of a community of young people across America who learn leadership, citizenship and life skills.
Willis Laws, Baton Rouge Juvenile Services Senior Probation Officer, credits his participation in 4-H for preparing him for life. "4-H gave me something fun to do and kept me out of trouble," Laws said, emphasizing, "Youth need 4-H and CHARACTER COUNTS!"
Arceneaux recommends contacting your parish LSU AgCenter office to learn about 4-H and CHARACTER COUNTS! Louisiana! He invites adults to become volunteers to help make a difference in youths’ lives, because the youth do need adult involvement.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture