The CEO/President of an industrial, environmental cleaning and pro-construction company called Starr Touch Enterprises has developed a somewhat unoriginal but interesting take in assuring success of many at-risk youth. The awareness that many behaviors occur within a scope of environmental events proves to be evident. Starr Touch has inducted a small segment of its company to the training, education and awareness, advocating social skills groups geared towards many of the troubled youth in today’s society; this segment is Starr Youth. Starr Youth is the non-profit, affiliate core-training piece to Starr Touch Enterprises. They pride themselves on the many activities, as well as, great ideas undergirded by a commitment to workforce training and entrepreneurial opportunities for disadvantaged youth.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, written in 2003, youths in the U.S. represent 26 % of the population and account for 50% of the victims of violent acts. Research shows that regular exposure to violence is associated with psychological difficulties, language and development skills associated with poor education and juvenile justice problems. According to (The U.S. Department of Education, 1997) and (Dodge, Pettit, Bates, 1997; Kendall-Tackett, Williams & Finkelhor, 1993) “exposure to community violence is twice more likely amongst African Americans than any other race.” Because of these statistics and known facts, Starr Youth seeks funding and many other avenues in order to train and educate youth. By providing life skills training before placing youths in jobs that are both contracted and affiliated with Starr Touch Enterprises Inc., they are able to provide the tools needed for future success. Starr Touch Enterprises aspires to help young people achieve self-esteem and confidence, while developing a sense of civic responsibility. Because many of the contracts require security background checks, most of the jobs geared for at-risk youth, are through small private owned businesses such as beauty salons, barbershops, carpet cleaning companies, auto shops, and small construction sites that are guided by apprenticeship programs.
One might ask what an apprentice is. In chapter 4 of the summary by T.H. Hawkins, under the caption, What apprentices are not, an apprentice is “a trade or occupation where formal training over a specified period is given and is allied to the provision of facilities for study leading to a City and Guilds, or qualification.”
According to Mr. Hawkins his summary entitled, What is an apprentice? ‘The term “apprenticeship” has lost the weight it had when it was originally conceived in the sixteenth century, and has now (…) become a blanket term. It covers: temporary and transient –assembly line work (…) and “genuine apprentices” – including craft/trade.’
Starr Touch’s goal in developing Starr Touch Enterprises and its core-training piece, Starr Youth is to create and develop more of the exact jobs that Hawkins mentions, for at-risk youth that will offer the necessary, blue-collar jobs derived from yesterday’s hands-on skill set; these blue -collar jobs have vanished from vocational schoolsand many other learning environments.
There have been and are currently in place, organizations and programs with ideas and information designed to stop the devastation surrounding many youth. Through numerous out-reach programs, Starr Touch is able to reach many of the young people who would normally have fallen through the cracks and crevices that are often prevalent when faced with neediness and neglect. In the summary referencing the 21st Century Youth article, The Department of Labor introduced a program through the Employment and Training Administration’s office of Workforce Investment Division of Youth Services, and began a YouthBuild program in September of 2006. The program provided job training and education opportunities for at-risk youth. Much like what they do in Starr Touch Enterprises and Starr Youth, YouthBuild split their time between the construction sites and the classroom, where they encourage youth to achieve GED and high school diplomas. Starr Touch Enterprises currently has a website, www.starrtouch.org, where one can see, first hand, many of the youth in construction training where a few of the apprenticeship programs are in force.
Many organizations provide programs and funding for disadvantaged youth all over the country. Some of these organizations are in our back yards. A very good friend, Binx Watts, heads charity golf tournaments every year for inner-city youths; these tournaments have since become very popular. In an article written by Thomas-Lester, The Washington Post (2007) Binx embarks on his journey in creating and developing the TeeMac Golf Inner City Park Heights Junior Golf Clinic. Park Heights, an urban area in Baltimore where I personally grew up, has longed been plagued with poverty and violence. Through the game of Golf, Binx and his non-profit organization, TeeMac, is able to provide troubled youth with the exposure necessary for future success, by taking youth off the streets and into structural learning and achieving environments.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph of the 21st Century Youth article, The (ETA) Employment and Training Administration is one of many organizations that offer continuous and relevant studiesand job preparation, while connecting youth to many educational opportunities. The abstract summary entitled, Programs Put Teens on a Path to Success, talked to Clayton Muhammad, an advocate for troubled youth primarily in and around his own community. Muhammad talked about one youngster who was born addicted to crack and how this same youth is a senior class president today because of a program that he created for youths. Muhammad talks about another organization for girls called Diamonds, which is a service fraternity. The fraternity brings together the sharing of opportunities that aspire to develop, grow and further achieve greatness and success for the Latino and the African-American teen. It is a program that links the two cultures in an attempt to find growth and development while achieving the many goals that often excel through a common bond.
In closing, one can only envision the advantages in educating and training at-risk youths for jobs in today’s environments. In a collective effort through the many past and present businesses, organizations and programs, there are possibilities of unlimited greatness that can become normalcy for the many aspiring entrepreneurs, environmental developers, maintenance workers and construction workers destined to become the future for the many youths in today’s environments. A curriculum for child-care providers called Teaching Social Skills To Youth by Tom Dowd and Jeff Tierney, it is said that, “Ideally, lessons learned at each stage in a child’s development become the tools that are used to successfully meet the demands of subsequent stages of life.” It is the concept of Starr Touch Enterprises and its core non-profit piece, to acknowledge the complexities of the human social behavior and to remedy those complexities with techniques in life skills training and development. It is time that we allow the rapid development of businesses like Starr Touch Enterprises to expose young and troubled youth dwelling in many environments, to the avenues of learning from technologies near and far. Whether it is computers or cell phones, the idea is to reach beyond their emotional IQ’s so that they may engage themselves in the vigilance of achievement.
Through creative job experience transpired in environments such as barbershops and beauty solons, Starr Youth can provide hands-on training and work experience for both males and females; it is those elements that will develop the level of integration youth will be able to intervene, from the teaching and training by responsible role models. Starr Touch Enterprises is aware of the important and vital fact that many of the young people will have to be motivated and in doing so, has created such alternative sports activities such as basketball, golf, baseball and football amongst other things. Our youths are able to choose their level of comfort and participation while acquiring the necessary life and development skills that are detrimental to the learning and achieving process.
Starr Touch Enterprises through Starr Youth hopes to off- set the many negative aspects that dwell in the environments that drive, feed and add to the critical plight of ignorance and devastation engaging many of today’s youth.