I attended a fundraising dinner last week and for a second year was impressed with what is happening with young people who choose to participate in this organization, here in Portland, Oregon. The educational wonder is REAP, Inc., Reaching and Empowering All People. According to their website, www.reapusa.org, they are “dedicated to student voice and empowering students to be global leaders.” They are changing lives. Their mission is to introduce young people to successful people in the business community and government. Students learn about the businesses; they learn how to handle themselves with adults, and they become inspired and confident that they can grow and achieve what they dream. Once students choose to be dedicated to the program, they are mentored through high school and college, some beginning the program in junior high school.
At the dinner, I first sat at a nearly empty table and was later joined by 3 bright-eyed, smart, young women. I asked them about their participation in the program and leaned what they like about it. They candidly spoke and the overwhelming message throughout the evening was, “we want to be heard, we have lots to say!” REAP is a platform for this diologue which is so necessary and important, not only to these young people, but in our society.
“WE WANT TO BE HEARD!” Of course, this concept is not new and it is not an unreasonable need and request. Who doesn’t want to be heard? Finding and using one’s voice is a precious gift. To be heard all parties need to listen. And, for listening to happen, everyone needs to stop. Stop long enough to listen and really hear! REAP is listening and young people are learning and gaining the confidence to express their voices. As one lovely young woman expressed with enthusiasm, “I have lots fo say!” Will you stop and listen and hear today?