True story. Several years back I was at the grocery store buying an apple pie and a half gallon of vanilla bean ice cream. (Warm apple pie topped with a heaping scoop of vanilla bean ice cream translates into happy for me.) There was an older gentleman in line in front of me. As the cashier rang up his purchase, he looked over at me as I placed my pie and ice cream on the conveyor belt. “Pie and ice cream, huh?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” I beamed. I didn’t need to add, “And I can’t wait to dig into it!” I’m sure he heard it in my voice. The man chuckled and said, “I remember when I could eat like that. Not anymore.” I glanced down and saw that he was purchasing two peaches. “Diabetes won’t let me. Enjoy!” The man picked up his bag with the two lone peaches and walked away. That encounter occurred over twenty years ago, but it still speaks to me today.
Today I’m probably close to the age of the gentleman I encountered in the grocery store all those years ago, and what I see is that, like that older gentleman, a lot of people my age have health concerns that dictate many of their life choices. I have friends who started jogging and eating quinoa not because they like jogging and eating quinoa (Quit playing! Nobody likes quinoa!) but because they had a heart attack and don’t want to die. Plain and simple. My walkaway? Rather than allowing some menacing medical condition to determine what I can and cannot do, I choose to own my destiny by being preemptive. To this day I still eat warm apple pie topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The difference? I choose not to eat half a pie at one sitting (which I’m quite capable of) and instead of a heaping scoop of vanilla bean, I’ve learned to be content with a modest scoop. The benefits of exercising self-control are immeasurable. The last time I saw my doctor she said, “I’m going to tell you something that I rarely say to patients in their fifties. See you next year.” If I eat two peaches, I want it to be because I want to not because I have to. This same principle plays itself out in every area of our lives. I have no idea who said it first, but we’ve all heard “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” or, as Barney Fife would say, “Nip it in the bud.” (Yep, I know. Showing my age.) Wisdom dictates that we address issues while they’re addressable, while they’re manageable, while there’s still hope. As an attorney, time and time again, I’ve stood beside kids in juvenile court whose record did not reflect the totality of the child I had the opportunity to engage one-on-one. What I’ve discovered is that oftentimes, somewhere, somehow opportunities were missed to redirect these children toward their potential, and now their circumstances were dictating their choices. The Restorative Justice Program of CSS is committed to reaching as many of the youth in our community as possible with measures designed to be preemptive rather than corrective. In that vein, we’re excited to announce that later this month, we will be taking a group of students on a college tour to UNCW. We’re also planning a nine-week Teen Entrepreneur Program, designed to help youth develop and launch their own businesses. Why are we doing all of this? Because it’s hard to be what you can’t see. We want to help our youth develop a picture of themselves and their lives that’s different from what they currently see. What we’re hoping is that all this translates into youth who envision a better future and, thus, make better choices. We’re doing all of this because we care about what happens to the youth in our community, and we want our actions—not just our words—to reflect that we care. Know a young person who would benefit from the programs the CSS Restorative Justice Program is launching? Contact Barbara Nelson at 919-735-1432 or via email at [email protected]