Changing a Poverty Mindset among Teens through Influential Programs

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Youth living in poverty are twice as likely to develop behavior challenges, than those from wealthy families. Being raised in poverty means facing overwhelming challenges daily, that many affluent children never have to confront. Low-income parents are often overwhelmed by diminished self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness and inability to cope—feelings that may get passed along to their children in the form of insufficient nurturing, negativity, and a general failure to focus on children’s needs. “Impoverished adolescents’ brains have adapted to these conditions in ways that undermine school performance.” In essence poverty can create a mindset that results in disruptive behavior.

While many of the material needs that characterize poverty can be addressed in the short-term, education is the most effective tool in disrupting long-term, systemic poverty. Traditionally, girls have been unjustifiably entrapped in the cycle of poverty. In many developing countries impoverished families can only afford to educate one child, they typically choose their sons over their daughters. This trend has had catastrophic results. “In 2013, 23 million secondary-aged girls worldwide weren’t in school.To this day, women account for 2/3 of the world’s illiterate.”This has unsurprisingly correlated to the fact that women still constitute the vast majority of the world’s “1.3 billion people who are living in poverty.”This reality does not mean that  girls cannot thrive in school or succeed in life, neither are they doomed to perpetuate this endless cycle of poverty. On the contrary, having a better understanding of these challenges allows for programs like Talented Girls in Action to formulate the necessary tools to help less-advantaged students succeed.

When a woman is educated she understands the value of education, she also makes enough money to pay for school fees which result in her children being educated themselves. An educated woman has a better means to support herself and her family. Her education helps her transition out of a life of poverty, and increases the chances of her children significantly improving their lot in life as well, which ultimately ends the cycle.

Any program that strives to advance the next generation of today’s youth, whether boy or girl, and cultivate their minds to succeed; will ultimately be the motivating factor that changes the poverty mindset. One program striving to make those changes is Talented Girls in Action (TGIA). TGIA is an after-school program in Charlotte NC. The program strives to  builds strong, secure relationships that helps stabilize girls behavior and provide the core guidance needed to build lifelong social skills.Through their program girls have the opportunity to have a safe space to communicate their struggles as well as find positive solutions. TGIA partner girls with local career women, who can not only identify with their circumstances, but give them the necessary tools to break their underprivileged mindset. Their mission is to affect positive change within the lives of the program participants, by unlocking their potential and forming a lifelong passion for education. Programs like this are the change that will provide support to students who struggle with breaking the cycle of poverty in their families.

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