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Young people are doing great things in Kokomo

When you think about the future, it’s easy to feel a bit on edge at times. You think about the next generation, and you see the things reported on them in the media. You start to question, “What is this world coming to?” Well, let me tell you what I choose to see when I think about the future and who will be leading it.

I look at the Kokomo CEO program. I look at the Kokomo Area Career Center’s Work-Based Learning program. I look at all of the student athletes who recently have signed on to play at colleges (and take a full school workload). I look at all of the high school students in our community who are currently, actively and voluntarily pursuing what drives them to make this world a better place. That’s what I see.

Sure, you’re always going to have those who make poor life choices. There are many, many, many adults who choose to do the same. If you focus on the negative, then the world can seem pretty bleak. You have other options, though. You can choose to see what those people did after they made those choices because second chances and redemption are real things. Or, you can choose to see those who are making positive choices and focus on them instead.

So, let me give you a couple examples of young people I’ve run in to recently who are doing great things and are going to make this world a better place. This isn’t just to give you some hope, but to show those students that there are people out there who are watching, who see them pursuing their dreams and who are pulling for them in a world that doesn’t always see them for who they are.

Josh Hanlon. As a part of the Kokomo CEO program, Josh came up with the idea to partner with Bona Vista Programs, make cards (artwork courtesy of our early childhood center) and sell them. Not only did he have to do all of the leg work to start his HanMade Cards (follow him on Instagram & Twitter), he had to figure out what he could do to turn a profit. You’d think that is what most people would be concerned with, right? Well… check this out – Josh is donating 15 percent of his proceeds back to Bona Vista! How cool! He’s not only learning about being a young entrepreneur, but he’s learning about giving back to his community.

Josh isn’t the only student in the Kokomo CEO program by any means. He’s just the one I’m most familiar with for obvious reasons. All of the students in the program, though, have put in a tremendous amount of work. They’ve met and interviewed CEO’s throughout the community. They’ve come up with business plans and struggled through the process of figuring out what works and what doesn’t. They’ve still gone to school, participated on sports teams, held down jobs and still managed to start these businesses. Most of us would have curled up on the couch in the fetal position crying if we had their work load. I could not be more proud of Josh and all of the Kokomo CEO students! You should be, too! 

Allie Ault. When she attended Bona Vista’s Keys for Kids Preschool program as a child, we knew she would go on to do great things. But, no one knew she would become the Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess, be former WNBA player Tamika Catchings personal assistant, nanny for the Chicago Cubs players during the games and do so much more. She has the most exciting life of any 20-something I’ve met. Yes, her hands are in a lot of things right now, but that’s how you figure out what you want to do with your life. The more things you try, the more you know – good and bad. There’s no reason she has to decide right out of high school exactly what she wants to do with her life, and I applaud her for taking hold of so many different opportunities, making amazing connections and embracing all that life has to offer. She’s given back to the community through these opportunities already – participated in the Russiaville Girls Softball League opening day parade, presented Bona Vista’s Disability Awareness Basketball players with their fundraising awards, came to read to Bona Vista’s Early Childhood Education Center during the “Week of the Young Child” and so much more! We are continually amazed by her, and can’t wait to see where life takes her!

Those are just two examples of young people who have crossed my path recently. That’s without me seeking out input from anyone else or really looking that hard for positive examples. They aren’t hard to find. There are SO many great people doing SO many great things in this community. We LOVE when they choose to support Bona Vista, but we LOVE even those who don’t. We are all in this community together. Let’s make it the best it can be TOGETHER.

If you would like to partner with Bona Vista in the form of volunteering, sponsorship or in any other way, don’t hesitate to contact me at abrantley@bonavista.org or 765-457-8273 ext 335. I’d love to hear from you and the positive ideas you have to make this community the best it can be!

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