A Student Who Sleeps on a Park Bench? This is Unacceptable


May 20, 2012


You're not alone if you sat stunned after reading the story about Senior Standout David Boone in today's Plain Dealer. If you despaired, if you wanted to lash out at his parents, if you had to put the paper down and wipe your eyes, I'm right there with you. A child so neglected that he had to sleep outdoors on a park bench? Come on, this is not acceptable. While you and I slept with roofs over our heads, this child was stretched out in a park and using his bookbag as a pillow. His parents were too unstable to raise him, and so he fended for himself. So what can we do? In Cleveland, we have a lot of ways to help youngsters. Here are just a few that I recommend: Get involved in community-building efforts. When I think of David's homeless nights, the Children's Defense Fund's well-known slogan, "Dear Lord, be good to me, the sea is so wide and my boat is so small," leaps into my mind. This national organization, which champions policies and programs to lift children out of poverty, has an active outpost in Cleveland. Last year, I wrote about its Freedom Schools summer sessions, which inspire character-building growth in local youth. Its national conference will be held in Cincinnati July 22-25. Youth and adults are invited to attend and get acquainted with Children's Defense Fund strategies for community organizing, with such topics as youth violence, child welfare, health and nutrition, and actively engaging parents and churches. Following the conference, action teams will be put in place locally, says Joe Worthy, national coordinator of youth leadership and development. "There needs to be a groundswell of energy to fix these problems, there's no simple answer. But the first step is coming to the table. That's what we want for Cleveland to do.
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