Ringing In A New Decade

By Rochelle M. Taylor Michigan Citizen, Jan. 17-23, 2010

I am often asked why I am so confident that "Another America is Possible." This article is one answer. A former Detroiter, Rochelle Taylor is President and CEO of the National Youth Sports Program Foundation in Columbia, South Carolina. We met for the first time when Kim Sherobbi brought her by during the holidays.---- GLB

I celebrated the ringing in of the New Year and felt the hope and promise that the mere turning of a calendar page could make a huge difference in my life. As I began this New Year, I reflected on everything I dealt with in 2009.

I struggled with an economy that made it harder to do more with less. I watched family members face salary cuts and lay-offs. I spent too much time in my personal daily grind, and consequently my circle of support dwindled. I cautiously looked at my own mortality as I face an aging society and dealt with elder care in my family.

Despite the struggles, or maybe because of them, I measured my success and happiness differently last year. When I was selected to travel to Africa to share my expertise in youth sports program development, I realized what a tremendous impact we all can make on the lives of others by giving of our time and our talents. I recognized that what mattered most to me growing up - the things that shaped me and define me as an adult - had little to do with economics or age and had everything to do with positive contributions in our communities.

In 1969, as a member of the Motor City Track Club, I had many successes: All-America honors on the interscholastic and intercollegiate levels. But my biggest successes weren't on the track field. My biggest successes were the lessons I learned about working hard, about being a team member, learning from my triumphs as well as my defeats. Not giving up. Respecting the competitors and the coaches. Not making excuses. Accomplishing a goal. These lessons were so important that I made Youth Sports Administration my life's work.

In 2010, I am re-committing my efforts to revitalize development of young people through sports participation. To revitalize is simply to give something a new life. So many times we look for the next best thing to take us to another level. Sometimes it's the tried and true method that will take us and keep us there.

For many years, the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) operated during the summer months in the Detroit-area to teach young people ages 10 to 16 about sports, education and life. NYSP provided a safe haven to keep kids off the streets, daily meals, and great sports instruction and competition. As a youth I attended the program at the University of Detroit, but programs also ran at Wayne State University, Wayne County Community College and in Flint and Albion. The lessons I learned in NYSP about being a good sport, about conducting myself with decency and honesty, and about always doing my best stuck with me long after the program was over. And thanks to programs like NYSP, more than 2 million kids nationwide believe this too.

My commitment to 2010 is the revitalizing of NYSP -- not just in the Detroit-area, but in 100 communities across the country. The NYSP is counting on the tried and true to help this generation of youth learn about sports, education and, most importantly, about themselves. Participation in NYSP enforces health and personal fitness needed to combat our increasingly overweight society. It reinforces math and science skills, reading and writing skills, and promotes a respect for higher education. We at NYSP help young people understand about the decisions and consequences they make, about becoming productive citizens, and about community service.

What can you revitalize in 2010 that will make a difference in someone's life, even in your own? We all need the tried and true in 2010.