Janice Reaves – Youth Pioneer Lets Kids Know That Knowledge Is Power

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Today’s youth are in a major crisis. With so much negativity flooding their impressionable spirits, it’s no wonder that they are looking to patterns of self-destructive behaviors to raise them—causing a generational curse poisoning the minds of little boys and girls with the biggest untruth known to mankind-the idea that he or she can never reach the highest plateau of success.  This weighed heavily on Janice Reaves’ heart, mind and soul and she decided to do something about it. Tired of being disgusted with the decline of inner city youth, Janice wrote the book “It’s Kool To Be Smart and to Have God in your Heart” for kids ranging in ages between five and twelve. “I wrote this five years ago and it was published in 2009 because I saw a need for it in our community and I was really saddened. I couldn’t believe the philosophy of these young kids that it’s so great to be stupid or dumb, and that’s their anthem. So I wanted to show them and ask well, what’s wrong with being smart?” Janice explained.
Initially, the first publishing company she worked with made changes to the cover design and priced the book over 20 dollars, something that made her feel uneasy. “That didn’t sit well in my stomach. When I wrote the book, I said that I’d give it away for five bucks, because I wanted to change the mentality of our kids, that was my primary focus. A child could buy it with their allowance or other money in their pocket. The other company went with another vision that included changing the cover, so I scratched it at the time. I wasn’t satisfied with the package,” she said. After going with another company, the original sketch of the cover was restored and so was the vision.

But she didn’t stop there. “When I finished the book, I said that the book wasn’t really enough, because these kids have to wear this like a badge of honor. And if I could, I’d put it on their forehead,” she laughs. “I prayed over it and asked God what would be something that they would like, something that they would wear-not even wear, but what can I do extra. The whole  concept with the K-I spelled ‘cool’ with a ‘K’ on purpose to represent knowledge and got the vision of the t-shirt, putting the God in the heart with the wings exemplifying taking them to a different place. Without the knowledge of God’s truth, they may be smart, but it’s not gonna lead them to where they really think they ought to be,” Janice continued.

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Janice grew up in an area where educating black students was a null and void priority to say the least. After graduating from high school, she barely read at a ninth grade level and was pretty much hanging out with her friends doing whatever she wanted to do.  It wasn’t until she seriously reevaluated her course of life that she decided to focus on education.  While attending Sacramento State University, Janice had dreams of becoming a dentist and liked the sciences, but that curriculum took too long for her, as she puts it, so she switched to majoring in Health, a far stretch of becoming an author. “I saw how I was lacking in the education department. I never thought about writing. If someone told me that I would be a writer, I would’ve said ‘yeah, right!’  I would write papers for my classes and the professors would leave comments on my work like ‘great use of metaphors and transitions’ and I never knew what they were talking about.  I took one of those career assessment tests which determine where you would be best suited, and it told me that I would be a writer. I thought to myself, ’are these people crazy?’ she laughs.

Crazy? No, not at all.  It was obvious that destiny was calling throughout her matriculation. After some time had passed, a friend of hers dared her to write a play because she was looking for a way to put some extra cash in her pocket. So in January 2000, Janice sat down and began to write and eventually self published her first book, ‘Hitting Reality,’ which got rave reviews from her immediate circle of friends, family and the like.  Afterwards, she got a vision for her second work, ‘The Cry of the Woman.’  “It speaks about the AIDS epidemic and different lifestyles that we are choosing to live which is causing self destruction,” she says.  But this project is near and dear to her heart and she really wants to plant positive seeds and breathe new life back into our children for their future. “When I’m dead and gone, I want my legacy to be people saying ‘she gave everything she could to change the mentality of our kids. I’m praying that I can do my duty to touch them. I recently went to a birthday party and witnessed disrespectful behavior and when I hear about that story that took place in New Jersey where a child took her seven year old little sister to a party and sold her, then she ended up being raped—I mean, it breaks my heart. We are breeding sociopaths. The biggest problem with our youth is the parents who are so busy trying to be their friend, when they should go back to parenting. They have given up on raising these children and they are doing them a disservice,” Janice remarked.

Janice has decided that ‘It’s Kool to be Smart and Have God in your Heart’ will be the first in a series of 10 children’s books. The second, ‘We Are One’, focuses on how children deal with situations such as discrimination. “We have an African American girl who is dark skinned, and she’s teased and taunted about it. The teacher has set up a program called the ‘We Are One’ program where the students have to implement how to overcome and deal with the issues that they face. There is a little boy who tells her that his grandmother would laugh at her because being dark skinned is a gift from God, and that she doesn’t need sunscreen. She says, ‘wow, I’ve never thought of it that way!’ and this is the nonsense that is hurting our community. While growing up, I never read a book that says being dark is a gift from God. So we’re going to do one book to another. I want these kids to get that they all have a purpose. I didn’t know my purpose was writing and if I had bought into what society had trained me to believe, oh my. But I knew that I wasn’t gonna give up,” she explained.

Janice Reaves has now extended her products to hats, coats, and backpacks just to get the message out there. Along with putting the finishing touches on a media kit, Janice says that she is going to become the ‘next Jehovah Witness author’ and knock on every door and even get a van. “I would march for this. I would lay down my life for this and together, we can bring about a difference, we can bring about a change,” she says proudly and emphatically.
For more information on Janice Reaves’ mission, visit www.kool2bsmart.com

Written by Eleanor L. Smith

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