During Black History Month, let's reflect on the invaluable strengths within our community and culture. These strengths should be passed down to younger generations. As adults, we bear the responsibility of upholding these protective factors, while lovingly guiding our youth to decide not to use alcohol and drugs to cope with the stresses of life.
These are strengths that we already have and should recognize as they can benefit our youth. Some common strengths in our community that can help our youth include:
- Cultural pride: Creating pride in our heritage is essential. Research has found that young people who have positive “ethnic self-concept” are less likely to misuse alcohol and other drugs and are more likely to experience emotional and social well-being. That means getting involved in cultural traditions, speaking native languages, and generally having a strong and positive sense of racial identity can help our young people make good decisions about their health and lifestyle.
- Involvement in positive activities: Other studies show that youth get lots of benefits from being involved in sports, community or religious groups, and doing activities with their families. This engagement instills values such as helping others and contributing positively to community.
- Acts of kindness: Youth who engage in helping others have many positive outcomes—including increased happiness. Encouraging habits like volunteering, donating, and sharing are good habits to have if you want to live a life full of optimism, hope, motivation, and confidence.
- Awareness of substance risks: Protecting our youth also means helping them understand the harms that taking alcohol and other drugs can have for themselves and their families. This doesn’t mean that we should scare them. Instead, educating with facts and resources can help them come to their own conclusions about whether they should take any substances. Openly discussing these issues should become common practice.
The big takeaway is that there are many strengths as a community that we can emphasize as we raise our youth so that they enjoy health and happiness. It takes a holistic approach to ensure our community thrives for future generations.