Times Article - Rachael Bossow
By RACHAEL BOSSOW, Times Staff Writer Published: Thursday, July 13, 2006 9:00 AM CDT
(Times photo/Rachael Bossow) Dan "The Driver" McIver is looking for community support in establishing his youth program "Life Force: The Living Vision" for local students. He previously established a program in Fort Jackson, S.C. that had 800 students participate.
If a child could get paid for doing chores at home, attending school and being polite, would they do it? Dan "The Driver" McIver has seen it happen. His program, "Life Force: The Living Vision," is designed as a full-time job for children, who earn merit points for each chore completed. "The goal is to help our children better themselves - that's the bottom line," McIver said.
"Everyone says we need it, but no one wants to make it happen."
Students must apply to be in the program and complete an interview. A checklist of behavioral items for the home, school and church are established for the student, who earns merit points based on what they achieved for each day. Students earn three cents for each item completed on the checklist, culminating in $14 to $21 each week in merit points toward their goal. By earning points, children can "purchase" bicycles, short vacations and other items. Life Force participants also meet each Saturday to complete physical fitness, leadership, public speaking and writing workshops with volunteers. The program is open to students in first grade through the second year of college. McIver is working to bring the Life Force program to Leavenworth as a way to keep local youth from turning to drugs and violence.
"We have to make kids believe in themselves. Their attitudes have to change," McIver said. Participants in the Life Force program are called knowledge management techies, because they gather information and use the knowledge to control their environment, McIver said. "(Life Force) is designed to teach the child that if they want something, they have to work for it," McIver said. "It's designed to create more productive citizens in the community."
McIver first designed Life Force: The Living Vision program after having an epiphany in 1988. While living in Fort Jackson, S.C., McIver began passing out applications for local students to become members of Life Force. He had 1,900 applications returned and 800 students participating in the program. Life Force participants gave him his nickname, "The Driver," because he "drove them to be better."
One of the most inspirational changes to come out of his Fort Jackson Life Force program was to an eight-year-old named Darrel. In his first interview, Darrel said he wanted to be a pimp when he grew up because pimps had money, women and clothes. After participating in the program and visiting the Charleston Naval Station, Darrel changed his mind and said he wanted to become a computer operator. McIver hopes to have a similar impact on the youth of Leavenworth. He has invested $5,000 of his own money, as have several members of the Life Force board of directors. Initial costs for establishing the program in Leavenworth include costs for applications, creating Life Force identification cards for participants and renting space for informational meetings.
"It's not about money - it's about commitment on down the line," McIver said. "We're going to make it happen." McIver is currently seeking support from governmental entities, local businesses and schools. He recently requested agenda time to make a presentation to the Leavenworth Board of Education. "We can increase the educational goal of the school by 90 percent," McIver said. "We can motivate kids to do better and get rid of discipline needs."
With the support of the school system, McIver hopes to pass out more Life Force applications to students than he could by himself or with volunteers in a door-to-door campaign. He also hopes to get soldiers from Fort Leavenworth involved in Life Force. "The main course in Leavenworth is to get it going," McIver said. "Once (people) realize it can help, it's going to spread like wildfire."
Life Force is a 501(c)3 organization, with a 14-member board of directors across the country. McIver plans to establish a local board of advisors to help run the local program. For more information about Life Force, visit the Life Force Leavenworth Web site, www.lflv.org.