Teach young people respect for themselves, others

Over my lifetime I've come to appreciate the music from the '60s and '70s and often find myself sharing the lyrics and history of good music with my daughter. One of my most recent memories is seeing her in the mirror, totally oblivious of anyone and anything around her, singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me."

Although she didn't know many of the other lyrics to that Aretha Franklin classic, she had memorized that portion and was singing it as if she understood exactly what it meant. As I tried not to laugh, in my heart I began to pray that as she grows up she would always remember the importance of respecting herself and demanding the respect of (and giving respect to) others.

In a world where it often appears that respect is a thing of the past, I believe it is imperative that we teach our youth the importance of holding themselves and others in high regard.

It is as important to teach them by example the power of self-respect and to instill in them a sense of self-worth and hope for the future.

Whether it is the simple act of speaking to others when they enter a room, the common courtesy of holding the door for a stranger, or being quick to listen and slow to speak, we must create a standard for our youth and hold them to it.

Diamond In The Rough Youth Development Program Inc. is committed to doing just that. Since 2004, this Gwinnett-based organization has successfully provided group mentoring, leadership development, career coaching, camps, conferences and family enrichment programs to nearly 1,000 youth and families throughout Gwinnett County and beyond.

With a mission to "transform the world - one child at a time" the organization has expanded its boundaries into Clayton County, which is the first of many surrounding areas to express an interest in being part of the organization's expansion plans.

Although members of DITR are thrilled about the warm welcome from residents of Clayton County, DITR remains committed to bringing preventative programs and enrichment activities designed to build self-esteem, character and leadership to girls ages 10 to 18.

The 2007-08 program will begin with a camp kickoff on Sept. 8, followed by weekly mentoring programs at three Gwinnett locations: Cannon United Methodist Church, The Centerville Community Center and Duluth High School.

This interactive group mentoring program focuses on self-image, character, leadership, fitness and finance.

Youth members are also invited to participate in The Core Leadership Academy, mandatory community service projects, and career and college coaching.

DITR will also host the Diamond Debutante Program, a 5-month program geared toward high school sophomores and juniors with a focus on etiquette, leadership and community service.

DITR has and will remain committed to providing resources and support to both girls and their families through free monthly workshops and activities offered through The Village Family Enrichment program.

Applications are being accepted for volunteers and youth membership, but youth membership is first come, first served. For more information, visit www.ditr.org or call 678-376-9676.

"People Helping People" is a weekly column written by the executive directors of nonprofit organizations in Gwinnett County. Today's article was written by Nicole Steele of Diamond In The Rough.

Need help or know someone who does? The Gwinnett Helpline directs callers to the appropriate nonprofit agency. Call 770-995-3339.