Counting on the teenagers

When my daughter was in Grade 9, I went to her school to volunteer at a leadership camp. I assumed that I would spend the time actively involved in the running of the event. Instead, the teacher greeted me with, “The kids do everything. If you need anything, see them first.”

I marvelled at the teen supervisors who coordinated games and activities for more than 200 kids and prepared meals for that large number, without adult intervention. The teens kept everything on schedule and meted out discipline sternly—though it was seldom required. The parent volunteers read books or chatted, and the teachers caught up on their marking.

I realized that I had some misconceptions about teenagers.

The organizers of that event were more than teenagers; they were capable, competent and hard-working people. They had the energy of youth and the competence of adults.

Do teenagers get a bad rap, because we don’t give them enough credit? If we all carry around the same misconceptions that I had—that teenagers are wilful, unreliable and not up to the job—then maybe they act that way because it is what we expect of them.

What if we gave them the room to be powerful?

Maybe they would amaze us with the results.

Last week I received a link to a video produced by the students at E.C. Drury High School. The students in this video encourage others to stand up and take action to right the world.

I watched the teenagers in the video taking a stand, and I saw the potential.

This generation of teenagers has the advantage of a quality education to equip them with knowledge. Their technologies and social media connect them to the world, so they can identify with the needs of others. The knowledge and global connection give them empathy and compassion. They have the energy of youth and the competence of adults.

We have a generation coming up just now with knowledge, connections, empathy, compassion, energy and competence.

If we give them room to be powerful, and they might just amaze us with the results.

I’m counting on the teenagers.

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on May 24, 2011, in Inspiration, outreach and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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