The images and temptations our youth are confronted with aren't the positive ones Nicole Johnson was surrounded by.
"When we were younger, there were not as many negative distractions for youth, media wise," she said. "It really concerns me. There are some positive things, but to me, it is overwhelmingly negative.
"There should be more avenues where young people can come together in a positive manner," she continued. "I feel for them."
It's a familiar lament. Adults have been bemoaning the loss of innocence for our youth and decrying the disconnection young people have with us older ones, but then we go home and close the door behind us.
But Johnson, owner of NicJo Productions, decided last year to host a Summer Youthfest at which youth were entertained, educated and allowed to showcase their talents in the arts. Nearly 250 people came.
Obviously it appealed to them. However, it flattened Johnson's wallet a bit because she supported the effort mostly with her money.
This year, she is hoping to raise enough money to avoid that by combining her love of youth with her love of comedy.
She met Spike Davis, a native of Louisville, while he was performing in Lexington for a church function and sought his help for her plan.
Now living in Atlanta with his family, Davis has a radio program which airs on satellite radio called "Spike Davis and Friends." It airs from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays and then he tours on weekends.
He has toured with Steve Harvey, Jamie Foxx and Cedric the Entertainer, and has appeared on BET as the host of What's Up with Spike, a children's program, and as the host of a game show called On the Beat.
"She called and said she wanted a clean comedy show," Davis said. "That's right in my wheelhouse. She said there was a need there and I agreed to come, especially in my home state. I get to come back and hang out with family and friends."
Davis had planned to be a radiologist, having a good scholarship in hand and the path already laid-out by family members who were in the medical field. But one night in a comedy club changed all that. He caught the bug.
That was in 1986 and he hasn't regretted it for one day.
"It is my passion," he said. "I love to entertain. I love to lighten people's burdens. That sounds corny and cheesy, but I really do."
What is the difference between how he grew up in Louisville and how our youth is growing up now? How did he become successful when so many others are making bad decisions?
Davis said far too often we adults fall into the trap of spewing disparaging words to our children like, "you are going to be like your no-good father," or "you will never amount to anything."
"You hear that 'sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,' but that is a lie that is not spiritually based," he said. "When they get older, they can still quote the negative things that were said to them."
What Johnson is proposing could serve as a mitigating factor on the lives of some youth. "A good hug from anybody is still a good hug," Davis said.
At this year's Youthfest in June, each young person will be given an opportunity to display his or her talents, whether in the area of visual art, dance, music, or dramatic interpretation.
"For that one day a year, they can come to an environment where they don't have to absorb negative images," Johnson said. "They won't have to worry about a fight breaking out or being hurt. They can have fun, and be inspired and encouraged."
But she needs your help to make that day happen. Davis will perform at Memorial Hall on April 6 at 8 p.m. The show, which features selections by the University of Kentucky Black Voices, will also include a short fashion show featuring designs by Chris Hudson of Lexington, creator of the Life's Journey clothing line.
"I just want everyone to come out and have a good time," Davis said. "We can't keep sitting around and saying people need to do something, then, when someone does something, we don't support her. Nicole is trying to do something.
"If you don't want to come out, just drop a donation at the door and then go back home and finish complaining."
IF YOU GO
"Spring Fling Clean Comedy Show," featuring Spike Davis.
When: 8 p.m., April 6.
Where: University of Kentucky Memorial Hall, 610 S. Limestone.
Tickets: $15, $20 at the door.
Call: Nicole Johnson, (859) 270-4075.
Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog: merlenedavis.bloginky.com.