I join Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh in her recognition of the need to assist our youths –– our future leaders –– to excel to their fullest potential. My pillars of achievement are the following: Health, safety and security, economic development to include jobs, education and self-actualization (which means, being all you can become, utilizing your abilities and capabilities).

Health includes eating a nourishing diet. It means having access to healthy foods in areas identified as food deserts, providing a process where those deserts can be turned into places where residents of those areas will have access to fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh meats and fresh produce.

Barbara A. Robinson

Safety and security means young people have a safe place to play, and a home where they will be secure and safe. It means they will feel safe to walk to school, to attend after school programs and have an expectation they will arrive to their destinations safely and return home safely.

Economic development means having jobs or being able to earn money. I attended an event where young people were being honored as published authors. There were nine published authors being honored and none were older than fifteen-years-old. I was especially intrigued by two sisters who were not only published authors but were also entrepreneurs. They were the founders and owners of a company called, “Sister Sweets”, where they made and sold cupcakes in several flavors. The young ladies were thirteen and fourteen years old.

I met another young lady who was fifteen-years-old and was the owner and founder of two businesses. One of her businesses is to organize and chaperone parties for younger children from one-years-old to five-years-old. Her second business was making party favors and gift baskets to be given away at the parties. I met a young man who owned a technology company where he designed websites. I asked him how was business? “I only made $164,000 last year. I expect to double that amount this year,” he said.

All the previously cited examples of young people pursuing their dreams at an early age is indicative of what can happen when we provide an atmosphere for creative growth. This is one of the reasons I am advocating for financial literacy and entrepreneurship to be taught in school beginning in the 10th grade.

Education is without a doubt an extremely important component of any success plan. It is true that one can become successful without graduating from college; however, you will still need to know how to read, write and understand mathematics. With technology expanding at an alarming rate and young people communicating by cellphones rather than writing, I have seen the decline of young people learning how to write in cursive. I know this to be true by the essays I receive from people applying for legislative scholarships. One of my requirements to receive a senatorial scholarship is a three-hundred-word essay from the applicant as to why he or she is requesting a scholarship, and what their future goals are. There have been times when it was necessary for me to ask an applicant to verbally discuss their future and to resubmit their application letter because I could not understand their hand-writing.

I have found that the use of grammar and sentence formation is at a decline with written communication. Because of the abbreviations used in texting, many sentences are formed with the use of letters rather than words such as: “OMG” for “Oh my God” or “Oh my goodness,” “ur” rather than “you are,” “lol” rather than “laugh out loud,” or “lots of love,” and so on. It appears that texting has created a language of its own.

Self-actualization means being all you are capable of becoming. It means realizing your potential, capabilities and abilities and going for your dream. When you are satisfied with your home life, your education and you feel safe enough to pursue your dreams, the quality of your life is greatly improved. We as adults owe it to the younger generation coming behind to help them become the leaders we need in our communities, or businesses and the world.

I applaud Mayor Pugh for not losing sight of the most important aspect of our future and that is the training of our future leaders, our youths.

State Senator Barbara A. Robinson represents the 40th Legislative District of Maryland.