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Kidz Times
By Kim J. Clark AKA Expanding Love
     Often, when we listen or engage in conversations about the future of our nation, many comments are negative as they relate to our youth. Know this, all is well… This writer had the pleasure serving as a chaperone with the JROTC on a college tour to Central Michigan University. My perception of this nation’s future changed that day. The fact of the matter is, our young people are eager to shine, put their best foot forward and lead with certainty. The JROTC gives the cadets the training and guidance to be honorable productive members of society.
     It is an honor to be able to showcase one of our future leaders. With young people like Tre’Neka Mitchell in charge, we are in good hands. This 16-year-old, 11th grade student of Cass Technical High School, Detroit, MI, has what it takes to achieve any goal she desires. Cadet Mitchell possesses a dynamic presence and clear concise way of expressing her thoughts.
     When asked what adult she admired the most and why, she replied, “Sgt. Malone” and nodded approval of her choice. She went on to say, “Sgt. Malone is the person I admire the most. One thing I like about him is that he calls things out. If something is wrong, he says so...” Her reason for admiring Sgt. Malone surprised me. When asked to expound on her reason, she quickly replied, “Sometimes it’s better to be more respected than liked.” 
     This writer asked Miss Mitchell what she liked best about the JROTC and how did she think it would benefit her in the future. Tre’Neka had quite a list of leadership skills. She is reliable, motivated, a person of integrity, and an excellent public speaker.
     Cadet Mitchell is very motivated to do well and succeed at anything she attempts. She told me, “When I am struggling with something, I think of my dad and how he encourages me to push through.” She went on to tell me how involved in her life, and the lives of her siblings her dad is in. Tre’Neka’s father, Lorenzo Mitchell, participated in the interview and chimed in, “Everyday, Monday through Friday we sit down together and ‘debrief’ about the day.” Mr. Mitchell, a phenomenal man and my idea of a “hero”, takes great pride in being fully engaged with his children. Tre’Neka and her dad explained, that as a family they talk about the events of the day and dad makes suggestion on ways to address situations that come up during the debriefing.
     When asked what words of encouragement she would give youth who do not have a strong support system, she gave an example that I will personally use when engaging with someone from a challenged background. “If I were standing in a room filled with people and held up a crisp $20-dollar bill, and asked who would like to have it, everyone would raise their hand. If I balled it up and asked who would want it then, everyone would still raise their hand. Now image if I balled it up really tight, threw it on the ground and stomped on it, and then asked the question once again, everyone would still want it right. Why? Well, because it still has value. It is still a $20-dollar bill.” Wow! Image that. No matter how life may have beaten us up, we still have value and can make a positive contribution.
     When asked what she would be doing in 5 years, she paused, gave the question some thought and responded, “Hmm, I’m in 11th grade now, so I will still be in college, also working with the Air Force and will then move on to Veterinary school.” Her statement was clear, concise and to the point. Tre’Neka Mitchell is on track to live the life she is designing for herself. With young people like Cadet CPT Michell influencing their generation and generations to come, I am pleased to report. This nation’s future is in good hands. 
     Kim is the mother of a veteran who loved his country and was willing to lay his life down for the freedoms he believed in. She is the Founder and CEO of The DeMarco Project, Non-profit organization. Her life’s mission it to save veteran lives and improve the quality of life for traumatized military service persons. If you would like to support her in the work, donations are welcome. Visit the website: www.TheDeMarcoProject.org. 

The DeMarco Project Speaks: Our future is in good hands