A few people have been asking why I use the term ‘breaking the negative cycle’, for me this term represents everything that I do in youth work explained more clearly through my teenage experiences. Growing up in Hackney I was witness to the effect of negativity outshining all the positives in the borough. In 2001 ‘The Crib’ youth project was barely 2 years old, and the place was packed with young people from all over Hackney. Watching Janette and Karlene the founders of the Crib, taking in young people no matter how bad they were, and giving them a chance to make something of themselves impacted me. At the time being surrounded by both positive and negative people I had to filter through the mess to discover what I needed to lead my path to success. Eventually everyone dispersed, some chasing their dreams, via university, work, setting up businesses while others chose to stay or join the negative cycle.
After going away to study and returning to the area, I started working for The Crib with the set of new young people who are now part of the project. Observing them for a while, I noticed that things hadn’t changed much from my time, negativity was still rampant. Some of the young people were focusing all their energy on the wrong things, which could lead to prison or worse death.
Now with the opportunity to make a real difference, I was thinking of ways to break the negative cycle. This spurred me to start the consequences program, using knowledge I had acquired from past mentors, books and parents. Tackling issues like, youth violence, gang culture, peer pressure I created effective ways to help shape these young minds to strive for success using relevant and inspirational methods.
I aim to break the cycle of:
Where young people believe they cannot achieve because the fear of failure consumes and prevents them from even attempting. I remind them that “they cannot win if they do not play” Showing that you can succeed if you truly believe, and put in the hard work. I do not believe in the saying “if it was meant to be it will be” my logic is if it was meant to be then by working hard you will make it happen. When contemplating on writing my book, I was told ” do people still read, are you sure people will buy books” I refused to listen to the doubts and persisted to my aim till I accomplished it.
Young people constantly hear that they cannot be the best because they do not have what it takes, or that the rich have more advantages to succeed. Repeatedly informed that their history, racism, convictions, slavery, ethnicity, provide no escape route. To break this cycle we need to lead by example, like I say many times the children are watching, so we need to lead not just by what we say but by what we do. There so many reasons to explain why people use excuses to stay in the negative cycle, to overcome these barriers you need the right tools to take them down, the right mind set, knowledge and the right people around to help you move forward. You must use the negative situation and convert them into tools to push you further. Knowing my history gave me a sense of pride, knowing all the great things that were done by my dad with little or no education not by choice but by circumstances, so I had no excuse, having all this opportunities to succeed. No matter what situation you are in, you have to believe that you can come out of it, with that seed in you then, at least you have broken the cycle and can move forward with attempts to success.
We live in a world where it is easier to blame someone else for the problems or social ills that we face. Government, police blaming parents, parents blaming the schools, young people blaming everyone. If we cannot work together, how can we expect anyone to follow suit. To break the cycle I feel everyone needs to first respect each other no matter what race, religion, class they come from., without that we have already failed. From there we can then concentrate on the real task, which is everyone concentrating on what is in their control. Before I point the finger I need to make sure that my house is in order. So government will do all they can to make sure provision and funding are available to help young people acquire jobs.
To the parents: making sure they are doing all they can to be providers and protectors, making sure they instil good values and morals, so when the time comes that child can make the right choices.
To the police: working closer with the communities to ensure that the people they are supposed to be keeping safe feel their presence in a positive way. To the young people themselves making sure that they respect those around them and get their voices heard in a more productive and positive way.
To the youth worker: providing support and being ready to help with that extra push when needed.
When everyone is doing their part no matter how small it is and we are all communicating effectively then we can break that cycle. I feel we can achieve more together when we do not blame or care who takes credit for good results.
To those who are welfare dependent and in poverty, you cannot rely on anyone to make your bad situation go away, you have to be ready to do something about it, accept help in form of welfare if needs be, not to live on but as a lifeline to get past that period of time. Hand outs will not take you out of poverty. Ultimately setting yourself with the right tools to succeed, whether that is education, investing money in business to create your own wealth and putting yourself in a position where you create jobs for others. Then we know we are breaking these negative cycles.
For me it is all about your mind set, if you are ready, the difference is between accepting the cards you are dealt or if you’re willing to strive for a new deck. So I will leave you with a story I was told not too long ago.
Two brothers were raised by their father who was a drunk, abusive, dependent on welfare and had gambling addictions. Eventually the two boys grew up totally different, one became a successful business man, the other became a carbon copy of this dad. They were asked one question, How did you end up in the situation you’re in now? They both had the exact same answer bearing in mind they both had different situations. They both said look at my father, why wouldn’t I end up like this?
The one that ended up like his dad decided that he would doubt himself, makes excuses and blame his father, this route took him into the negative cycle and if care is not taken his children will end up in that cycle.
The one that became successful had a different mind-set. He used the negative in his life and used it as an inspiration to succeed. Overcoming doubt, excuses, and blame. He had ambitions and the belief he could succeed.
So Remember to do your part to break the negative cycle.