Batter up


By Vern May

Minnedosa & Area Community Development Corporation

Have we lied to our kids? Passing down the wisdom that was given us in our formative years, were we just extending the life of a myth? I have no qualms in sharing with the readers of this column that if it isn’t true that “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” and I was deliberately misled, I’m going to be angry.

You’re not going to hit a home run every time at the plate, but that shouldn’t discourage us from taking our turn at bat. These are lessons we learn as youngsters that somehow don’t apply in real life as adults.

As we look around our aging communities, we often hear the lament that we don’t see young people coming out to take over the volunteer base that is starting to wear out, or we don’t see young people taking an active interest in community causes and committees that have been a strong part of our rural towns for decades. Do you think community isn’t important to our young people? 

Those young people whom we have been able to retain, or bring back to the community, are very interested in the health of our rural areas – after all, this is where they live and are raising their families.

When the next generation finds themselves inspired to get involved, it’s probably when they see a gap in services or opportunities they would like to see addressed. They join our committees, propose new ideas and ask a lot of “what if?” questions. Have we thought of or tried this idea before? Their ideas stem from a sincere interest to maintain life in our prairie towns.

What young people often find in response is a hesitation to proceed. What if it doesn’t work?  Why do we want to spend that kind of money? Any number of obstacles are set out and for many, they grow discouraged at what they see as a lack of openness to new ideas. So young people quit the team. We are teaching them that as adults, it’s all about winning – and that you should never try anything abstract for fear of losing. In the process, we’ve closed the door to a generation of input that we desperately need.

As parents, we have sat nervously on the sidelines as we watched our kids make their first independent decisions. Sure, our hearts soared with their successes and we delighted in their discoveries, but we also shared their sorrow in defeat. Those setbacks though, didn’t deter us from letting our children grow and learn from their mistakes. We have to admit the pride we felt when they excelled beyond expectation.

We want our young people to get engaged in community and emerge as leaders.  That requires that we hand them a bat and let them get on the field. Inclusion does not mean adding them to the roster and then watching them learn the game from the bench, where they can’t influence the score.It’s critical that we remind ourselves that everyone is on our team because they are engaged in the game of community development with an interest to contribute to our measurable success.  Knowing that, we need to have faith in their judgment to make decisions, take chances and amaze us with their big plays.

There’s an opening in our lineup and we need to allow new teammates to swing for the fences. Let’s continue the conversation and explore the possibilities that exist by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone, 204-867-3885. The best things around that I have ever seen, came from small towns and big dreams.