Being Yourself

I think there is no greater challenge for kids today than just being the person they really want to be. Even when I was a kid, being true to yourself was hard. There were pressures from all around: friends, media, adults; all telling you to be this certain way. With the rise of social media, we see that the pressure has only gotten tougher on kids.


Photo by Darin Reyes

When I was a kid I was a tomboy who liked to read and played sports. My street was filled with boys, so I tended to play with them. They were my friends, and while we weren’t always close, those boys never stopped being friendly towards me all the way through high school. Looking back, I know those friends probably saved me from a lot of bullying growing up.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I were a kid today. Would I be brave enough to be the person I want to be with all the pressures of 24/7 social contact with other kids? Would I just go with the flow, let the bullies tell me who to be? Would I be better or worse under those conditions?

It’s a tough thing to think about. In some ways we are more accepting of people who are different these days, but in many ways the pressure to conform is still so strong for kids. When I think about these things, I become so grateful to The Leaven.

At Leaven centers, kids are cherished for who they are. Their strengths are praised, and their weaknesses are supported. As a group, these kids work together to help each other thrive. They each strive to do their best in school, and help each other do their own personal best. Instead of bullying each other, Leaven kids learn to lift each other up so they can all succeed.

Having these relationships as a child, a group of friends that builds you up and accepts you for who you are, is something I know is critical to making it through the tough years of junior high and high school. That’s why I know these Leaven kids will be able to achieve success; because they aren’t just learning the tools they need in the classroom, but also the tools they’ll need to navigate the tricky paths of society in the future.

They are each becoming better citizens, better people, and better versions of themselves; and there is nothing more wonderful than that. Thanks again for supporting The Leaven. Together we are helping kids and communities rise.

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