During my years as a front line Youth Care Worker with troubled youth, many would be of the opinion these kids were the worst of the worst, with every kind of diagnosis, classification and label included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The challenges I faced as a Youth Care Worker did not lie with the youth I worked with, but with the glaring reality of systemic problems and the overwhelming, ongoing failure to provide these youth and families, with real, affective and available help and support , in particular in the areas of aftercare, poverty, drug addiction and mental health services, that were and are gravely lacking. I have been personally affected and touched by most of these issues throughout life, in one way or another, and I believe this was one of the main reasons why I felt, being Youth Care Worker was my vocation.
Growing up as a troubled youth, art and creativity provided me with a refuge, an opportunity to express my suppressed, repressed thoughts and feelings, so much the result of hurt and dysfunction. A life long involvement with the recovery process, from this very personal experience, combined with my creative skills and a desire to be pursue art, and a few caring adults, made all the difference to enable me to use these insights and skills as a Youth Care Worker , and I found it very helpful to the youth I worked with every day. It was much easier for them to talk about themselves through their art they had created, developing a sense of awareness, esteem, healing, and self empowerment. These are great conduits for positive change and understanding.
The most significant thing I consistently and painfully became aware of, as a Youth Care Worker is knowing what a serious crisis we have among our youth today, and I am afraid we are failing them in ways I am not certain we will ever be able to avert. I am always hopeful, however not so optimistic in light of the current events within a world that seems to be lost on the wrong road, and on a collision course with destructive pursuits, instead of social justice, human rights and peace.