The Rekenekt Graffiti Wall
I am passionate about using the pain of my past to help others find value, worth, and purpose in their lives. I was reminded through the eyes of lost and hurting children what it felt like to be abused, abandoned, and alone in my own teen years. As I began to work with at-risk teens and their parents, I began to see a common theme emerge. These parents and children were disconnected. Many were not talking honestly about issues in their lives. Some were hiding deep dark secrets causing inner turmoil and preventing them from connecting. Parents blamed kids and kids blamed parents. In the end, no matter who was responsible, the outcome was the same: broken and disconnected relationships between parents and their children that were at the root of many of the issues that were threatening their families.
The results of those early years of research developed into a program called rekenekt which now falls under the ministry umbrella of Illuminate the Issue. The goal is to reach out to hurting teens and their parents and equip them to reconnect their relationships by getting new conversations started.
Reconnecting parents and teens proves difficult in this fast-paced culture where texting and tweeting have replaced honest communication. An old tin can phone shares the idea that getting a good old-fashioned conversation started can go a long way to repairing damaged relationships and reconnecting parents and their children.
I uphold the vision that if parents will reclaim, their God-given roles as protectors, providers, and mentors for their children, fewer teens will find themselves in crisis. If we are proactive rather than reactive as parents during this difficult age, we will be able to walk alongside our lost and hurting teens and help guide them through their most challenging years. We can help them survive adolescence and emerge victoriously as productive, positive young adults.
THE WORDS THEY LONG TO HEAR: Messages from the Wall
Abuse. Anger. Shame. Despair. Loneliness. Hopelessness. Fear. Those are words that describe my youth. I grew up in a broken and abusive home living in a volatile world of abuse. I understand first-hand the struggle to survive in a world you don’t understand and the despair that comes from trying to face it alone.
The words I heard in my own childhood and teen years are no different than those of teens today. Our sons and daughters are crying out with desperation to get us to hear the words they long to speak in the hope that we will speak the words they long to hear.
Sometimes the adults in their lives need a little help understanding the confusing culture to embrace their role as parents and grandparents. By reconnecting these critical relationships, God can bring hope and healing into the darkness.
“In a country that has been rocked to its foundation, it is crucial that we provide security and refuge to our teenagers. Security is more than public safety; it’s inner confidence: I’m trusted, loved, and have a purpose. It’s the sense: I’m being heard and have value. These are ways we can support our teens in uncertain times. These are gifts that only parents can give their children.”
– Tim Smith, Seven Cries of Today’s Teens
The one thing I consistently hear from hurting teens is that they don’t have anyone in their lives who care. Most of them are wrong. They do have parents who love them but the messages they hear are getting distorted and disconnected by the confusing issues they experience every day. They feel lost, alone, and hopeless. They desperately want to connect with someone who can help them find their way.
The rekenekt graffiti wall provides a safe place where youth and parents can express themselves freely and anonymously to get new conversations started. The graffiti wall is a profound visual wake-up call and powerful reminder to rekenekt with the people in our lives. The messages from the wall never cease to blow me away. They are fascinating, heartbreaking, and downright frightening. The rekenekt wall travels and is available to display at rekenekt events hosted by your group or organization.
This topic is powerful and changes the way we look at behavior and societal issues in the next generation. It is good for parents, grandparents, and other caring adults who want to better understand the needs of the youth in their lives.
“This was going to be the end. I was done. I showed my dad what I wrote on the wall, and we talked. Maybe he will listen now.
– 9th-grade girl
“ If only I had known the things written on this wall, maybe my daughter would still be alive.”
– Single Dad
“If this is true, if these words are real, then we have a lot of work to do.”
– a single father
“This was the best part of this event. I feel new and clean after writing these words. Thank you.”
– a suicidal teen girl
“I’ve been told my whole life I didn’t measure up-that I was weird. I’m not good at anything that matters to anyone. But if she can find a purpose with her life the way it was, maybe I can too.”
– Freshman Boy
“Writing down what I feel guilty about really helped me. I know that God can forgive everything I have done. He still loves me. That changes everything.”
– High School boy
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