How Does Poverty in Austin Affect You?

Forefront Austin wants to help you answer this question and others about critical issues in our community. LifeWorks teamed up with Forefront and this month Executive Director Susan McDowell discusses The Strength to Break Out of Poverty.

In her interview, Susan discusses how the circumstances of poverty may affect the choices adolescents make, the impact of those decisions on our society, and why it is so critical to help teens in poverty break the cycle. Here’s one selection…

We see media stories about youth who pull themselves out of impossible circumstances. What is the bridge between the realities of poverty and the promise of a college education?

SM: A wise LifeWorks staff member once told me the following: The youth we serve do not come to us to be changed. They long to be seen as they are, and found to be OK. Most are afraid they are not, having been told so over and over again. Regardless of the condition they are in when they come to us, they already possess everything they need to live successful lives. The more they believe they are OK, the better able they are to access and utilize their own resources. There is nothing that will have a bigger or faster payoff than their realization that they are not flawed.

In short, the best slingshot out of poverty for a youth is having at least one adult—a parent, teacher, or mentor—who is unconditionally devoted to his or her success, and who helps the youth believe that he or she is more than the sum of his or her past situations and choices. Read the full article. 

The site also houses a profile on Susan that gives her answers to questions about LifeWorks, Austin, gadgets and the outdoors. Read profile.

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