“The kids — there are so many stories about the kids that come out of these football foundations it would bring tears to your eyes . . . To ask me to pay that out of my own pocket, there's no sense to this. The money's gone,” he said, it was spent on equipment. The foundation “saves kids’ lives,” he said, adding he exchanges business cards with almost everyone he meets and later sends many of them a letter asking for a football foundation donation.
I wouldn't doubt that his foundation makes such a difference in the lives of participants. Having a supportive tribe/social group, discipline and a common, achievable goal to strive towards can have a powerful impact on personal development. The military is build on that very same model, or at least it was. Conversely, being born into poverty and surrounded by violence gives youth the wrong message, the wrong incentives from day one.
On the one hand, Ford seems to get that - his programs, which are social programs, save lives and provide opportunity for their participants. On the other hand, he can still say things like this:
“I think they should start investing in jobs. The bottom line is you or anyone else can come out there and invest and open up a business that creates jobs. That’s the best social program around, is a job.”
There aren't many who are interested in investing in a retail shop in a hot zone. But there are lots of people willing to invest in programs that give kids the support they need to nurture the tools of success.
Rob Ford's dedication and passion for the kids in his program is commendable; there's no question in my mind that he believes in what he does. All I ask is that he broaden his horizons a bit - as Mayor, he has opportunity and responsibility to make that exact same commitment to all Toronto's youth.
As too many of our officials seem to be forgetting, true leadership leaves no one behind; it helps us move forward together.