Teen power is all around us.
Adults just need to look past the stereotypes that all teens are surly, sinister, manipulative, irresponsible, dangerous. Look beyond the stereotypes and adults will spy some incredible teen power. A small sampling:
North Central and Shadle Park high school students recently gathered thousands of cans of food and donated thousands of community-service hours as part of their Groovy Shoes spirit competition.
Over the holidays, The St. Augustine’s Parish High School Service Group babysat neglected and abused children to give foster parents a much-needed respite.
Teenagers Tim Coley, Christa Countryman and Katy Turner have all stepped into adult leadership roles. Coley is on the Davenport City Council. Countryman is a member of the Lincoln Hospital Foundation Board. Turner is a member of the Washington state Public Lands Advisory Committee.
Teen power can invigorate companies. For instance, The Spokesman-Review’s Teen Advisory Council meets once a month. The 40 members feed the newspaper story ideas, and not just for the Our Generation section. Every company could benefit from regular feedback from young people.
Teen power is often overlooked. Maybe because the media highlight the exploits of troubled teens and play down the work of “power teens.” Maybe because adults have a faulty image of most teens. Ask any group of young people the misconceptions adults hold about them. You’ll hear answers similar to the ones we heard recently at Evergreen Junior High. The ninth-graders said: “Adults think we’re bad. Troublemakers. Hoodlums. That we manipulate our parents. That we always need to be told what to do. That we are irresponsible.”
Adults, they added, “should listen more, hang around us more, give us more responsibility.”
Adults must be generous with opportunities. The Davenport council and the Lincoln Hospital Foundation are to be commended for including teens. They could go one step further and make them voting members.
Jennifer Belcher, public lands commissioner, met 15-year-old Katy Turner when Turner was working on a school project. Belcher was so impressed she appointed Turner to the Public Lands Advisory Committee. “She is able to hold her own with this very savvy group of adults and she brings a fresh perspective to our discussions.”
Tap into some teen power. And you’ll understand firsthand the truth behind Belcher’s statement.
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board