03 Feb 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
Special to the Tri-State Defender
(Nicole Gates is Campaign Coordinator for the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood & Youth.)
In a perfect world, there is no child left behind, no failing schools and children are performing at outstanding levels. No infant mortality, teen pregnancy, juvenile crime, children exposed to violence, no one organization fighting a cause alone; there’s not even a cloud in the sky, unless you need one.
Of course, life isn’t always perfect. That’s why there’s the Ask First campaign that asks the question, “Is it Good for the Children?” In a more perfect world, the question would be a standard, and we are an imperfect Memphis – a city learning to get down to the heart of the matter through strong grassroots and collaborative efforts.
We are rich in community/family resources and armed with two dynamic mayors. We are fortified with many organizations – equipped with the spirit of grassroots leadership – ready and willing to answer the call to address the myriad disparities and social ills. They include the Shelby County Office Early Childhood & Youth, The Blues Project, Centering Pregnancy, Healthy Start, Parents as Teachers, Boys, Inc., Memphis Teen Vision, Girls, Inc., Defending Childhood, Project Single Moms, Stand for Children, The Baby Feat Project, Agape, and the rebirth of Community Voice, to name a few.
Serving as the Campaign Coordinator for the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood & Youth, I came to realize that the heart of the matter truly relies on collaboration. Collaboration: a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals. Can we answer the call without it? Collaboration forces us to see things from other perspectives. Does that not lend to the vision of a ONE Memphis?
The re-launch of the “Ask First” campaign has weighed on my spirit. I pledge to no longer struggle trying to get down to the heart of the matter. I encourage you to join me, but before you do, ask, “Why are we missing the mark, setting the standard below the bar? Then get an understanding that Memphis can handle any challenge!
On numerous occasions, I have been quoted as saying that “Memphis has some of the greatest resources.” Today, I tug at the hearts of Memphians and employ you to ask, “Does it matter who is answering the call?” Who are we representing in our decision-making? Did we miss the memo that stated this was a competition?
It is essential that we hone in on the gift of collaboration. A gift we take for granted, it allows us to fight for a common cause on common ground. Think about it, we already have the lead, great programs with many potential and benefits.
Our children are our most valuable commodity. The return on our investment in them will yield us a One Memphis, a decrease in disparities and, ultimately, a better quality of life for those now too young to build that life for themselves; our babies.
Does it hurt, me tugging at your heart? Are there any Memphians bold enough to reach out of the box and listen to the children? They are crying out! Can you hear them? Turn your world down, listen closely and you can hear them asking for you to show, lead and guide them to a place that will provide them a higher quality of life. Who’s listening? Are you listening?
I dare you to speak to your heart and then ask, “Is it good for the children,” before you make a decision, choice or judgment! After all, the heart of the matter lies within you and we do not live in a perfect world!
(This is one in a series of guest columns designed to focus public attention on issues that affect Memphis’ children. It is part of a Shelby County initiative to remind everyone, in every aspect of daily life, to “Ask first… Is It Good for the Children?” For more information, go to www.shelbycountychildren.org or call 901-385-4224.)