Looking at the overall vibe of America can get very depressing. When I look at our "elders" and older generations, who have been and continue to make important decisions on our behalf, I can't help but be disheartened. Environmental destruction, wars, poverty, disease, lack of education and all the other problems seem almost insurmountable. If we step back and analyze each one, we begin to feel more and more helpless -- to a point of complacency. If we continue down this path of non-action, our future will diminish along with our dreams, and more importantly, the dreams of today's youth.
What if, as young people, we had an easy outlet to not only "step up" where our elders have backed down, but begin setting the stage for the country and world we want to see? What if we focused on one issue that needed support, and through that support we took back our future? What if we took proactive action in helping young people who have been affected by circumstance and are struggling for survival right in our own community?
There is no question that the youth will dictate which direction a country will go. While this may seem logical to most people, we have more youth than ever headed down the wrong path. The current statistics show that about 1.6 million youth are experiencing homelessness every year, right here in the "land of opportunity." While their path may often seem like a "choice," when we look deeper, we find that they are often products of their environment. The ability for a kid to bounce back from poverty or physical, sexual or mental abuse and stay on track to be a productive member of society becomes extremely difficult. It is a question of opportunity, not ability. Once we truly understand that we can be real difference makers -- not only in the life of one person, but on an entire generation -- we can get the motivation to do our part.
The Gen Why Project was created in unison with our documentary, "Generation Why?" The film will not only inform and educate all Americans about the issues facing our youth, but it will inspire them to care and ACT. We will use the influence of the film to create strategic alliances with nonprofits, companies, educators, physicians, athletes, artists and anyone else interested in contributing to our efforts.
In an attempt to give college students an avenue to help homeless, foster and at-risk youth in their communities, I have started setting up Gen Why Clubs. The Gen Why Club will be a college club which connects students with homeless/foster youth organizations to support them in their efforts. I am excited to say that I have set up the first Gen Why Club at my alma mater, San Diego State University (SDSU). After reaching out to SDSU, we got an amazing response from students who were eager to not only help set up the club, but actively recruit other students to join. It is my goal to have a Gen Why Club on every high school and college campus in the nation and start a philanthropic revolution among young Americans.
It is my firm belief that if we can connect young people together to support each other in all aspects of life, we can began creating a foundation for short and long term change. I have seen this firsthand in my experience working with homeless youth in Orange County. There is no question that if you connect with another person and make a conscious decision to simply be a friend, the positive change will happen immediately. Not only will you help a young person in need, but you will empower them to pursue their dreams and live the life they deserve.
Many say Generation "Y" is the generation of "me". Instead of arguing against that notion, I need your help to show that we are truly the generation of "we". We have seen that words fail to create the change we want, and often lead to false hope. What we need now, more than ever, is action. The time for Gen "Y" to step up is now. Help me spread Gen Why Clubs all over America, on college campuses and in communities to give America's youth the opportunities they deserve.
We should not only know our inherent potential, but be empowered by it. We are our future. Let's build it together!
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