Shannon Williams

College graduations have taken place, school is nearly out for students, and the weather – despite its recent unpredictability, is beginning to be consistently warm. The official start of summer is almost here, so what are you going to do over the next few months? How will you effect change? Here are some things to consider.

Improve your health

My friend and I have embarked on a health challenge together that we are hoping will evolve into a movement involving others. The ultimate goal is for us to improve our overall health, not just during the summer months, but for the rest of our lives.

Our plan is simple and is easily implemented. José calls it the Triple 8 and we strive to drink eight glasses of water and eat eight servings of fruit or vegetables daily. The last component of the plan is to get eight hours of sleep.

I was on board with the water and even the fruit and veggies. Though I knew it would be challenging, the eight hours of sleep part had me apprehensive, simply because it seems impossible. Eight hours of sleep for me seemed like a tremendous feat that I may never be able to accomplish. When I shared my hesitation with my friend, he reminded me that moderation is the key and not everything has to be done at once. Perhaps mastering the water will come first, then the sleep, etc.

The warm weather is great motivation to help you get started on your path to improved health. Join our movement and track your progress. I’d love to hear your success stories.

Serve as a mentor

People are busy and hectic schedules seemingly intensify for many during the summer months, however, we should still find time to mentor others.

Generally when the subject of mentorship arises, people think of adults mentoring youth, but that isn’t always the case. Even established professionals need mentors to share ideas, vent frustrations, or simply offer guidance. And being a mentor doesn’t have to require huge amounts of time – it can be simple phone calls or email exchanges in addition to activities and other face-to-face interactions.

Mentors are always needed for youth – particularly in the African-American community. Currently, Big Brothers Big Sisters is on a quest to get more Black males to serve as mentors to Black male youth. Of the “little” males who are waiting to be paired with positive role models, 75 percent of them are African-American. So while mentorship isn’t solely for youth, that particular demographic is in considerable need of positive males who can lead by example.

Take a class

What better way to spend the summer than learning something new or polishing up your skills on something familiar. A good friend of mine and her husband will start a couples cooking class next month and they are really excited about it. Getting involved in educational or even recreational classes can be extremely rewarding.

Read a book

If you are like me, you rarely have time to immerse yourself in a good book. This summer I plan to change that by reading a few books that have been on my shelf for far too long. Data show that reading is not only entertaining and enlightening, but also a great stress reliever and a natural stimulant.

Determine a cause and advocate for it

The kidnappings in Nigeria were a wake-up call for millions around the world about the reality of human trafficking. As a result a worldwide movement was launched to “Save Our Girls.” While at press time the girls were yet to be found, the movement has intensified and people who may have never imagined themselves advocates have picked up additional causes to support. Social activism is what resulted in the Voting Rights Act to be passed and social activism is what led to the ultimate demise of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.

Advocating for a cause you believe in and are passionate about is perhaps the best fulfillment you can receive, particularly if your efforts positively impact the lives of others.

Be kind

Be kind … those two words are small, but have immense impact, yet require very little effort. Being kind to others can be as simple as offering a smile or holding the door open for a stranger. Some of the simplest, most heart-warming things one can experience are small acts of kindness. So in the coming months and beyond, strive to be a kinder person.

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