A vision board is a collage of images and words representing a person’s wishes or goals, intended to serve as inspiration or motivation which is designed to help an individual visualize their success in the future.
In the case of children in rural Appalachia, such as Braydon in McDowell County, West Virginia, creating his own vision board in the afterschool program of Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA) supported by Americans Helping Americans® it illustrated much more than what he wants to be when he grows up (a fireman).
On Braydon’s vision board under “Things I Love About Myself,” he wrote, “I’m funny, special and caring,” and, of the “People Who Support Me,” he listed “My Mom and Dad and my Grandpa.”
Americans Helping Americans® Executive Director Cameron Krizek reached out to BCPIA, our partner in Beattyville, Kentucky, Cumberland Mountain Outreach and our partner in Gainesville, Georgia, LAMP Ministries to request their afterschool program participants create their own vision boards.
Cameron got the idea by thinking, “Americans Helping Americans® spends a lot of effort bettering the lives of the youth in these communities however they aren’t allowed to vote, advocate for policy, and when people talk about bringing back jobs in the area, they aren’t asking the kids what jobs they would want to have when they grow up.
“So, I was interested, what is their dream for their future? Could their dream job become a future program?
“I also wanted to make sure someone was asking them what they want out of this life.”
Cameron says he had been informed by teachers that in some of these distressed Appalachian communities that when they ask young children where they see themselves in the future, some respond with, “I want to cash a check,” which means they want to collect welfare.
Sadly, the teachers report the reason why that’s the case is because “that’s what they see their parents doing. It’s one of the few things they know.
“I wanted the kids to take time and put pen to paper to illustrate what their perfect world would be, and where they fit inside it.”
Cameron said he was impressed with some of the creative careers they wanted to pursue – such as the boy in Gainesville who designed his board with his sketches and has hopes of becoming an animator.
In McDowell County, Brittany has dreams of becoming a dentist, but first to graduate high school “with my scholarship,” go to college, and “be a great parent.”
In the meantime, Brittany is grateful for many things including being blessed to have parents, brother, family and “wonderful” friends, Jesus, and something most children her age take for granted – “to have a roof over my head, a place to sleep and food to eat.”
And her vision of the future includes “to get my learner’s permit when I turn 15 in November, to play college softball, to own a Jeep Wrangler (black) and Dodge Cummins truck (also black), to find the love of my life, to have a great home, good paying job…and to have a healthy family.”
At Americans Helping Americans® we focus on the needs of children and youth through afterschool programs, summer camp opportunities, ensuring they’re prepared for school with school supplies and helping them to identify their hopes for a successful future is just another way of helping them to realize their dreams.