#BeNice: The Power of Youth Voices

I get to work with some pretty amazing young people on a regular basis.  It’s honestly inspiring to realize how many young people are out there in the world, working daily to improve their communities and our society.

Thus, when I got to work with a school in Washington recently, I was expecting to find some pretty phenomenal young people, but I wasn’t prepared for the force for good named Jake.

During our UPstander Intervention Training, I talked to the students at Jake’s school about the idea of being social normers, of being the change you wish to see in your school so that you can inspire others to do the same.  We talked about how social norming helps to change the air students breath in school to make it more inclusive, which makes the other work of being an UPstander far easier.

While talking to these students, though, I didn’t realize that one of the students to whom I was speaking could easily have been up there offering his wisdom.  After all, not long before I came to his school, Jake had made this video:

One of the most common forms of ageism toward young people in our society today is thinking that as adults, young people have nothing to teach us.  Often adults pretend that we have the whole world figured out and that young folks will one day know as much as we do if they make it to the magical world we call adulthood.

In reality, though, young people are often the ones with the most to teach.  After all, they have not been fully clouded by the cynicism or negativity that sometimes comes with age.  Even more, young people are engaging with the world in ways that those of us even ten years older than them could not have imagined at their age.  Youth are inspiring revolutions in the Arab Spring and transforming their communities through activism and servant leadership in every community around the world.  Plus, with the power of the internet that they know so well, they have the ability to learn from other young people as well as from elders in ways I never would have imagined at sixteen.

What Jake reminded me, not only when I met him or when I first saw this video but in our continuing relationship through social media, is that I have a lot to learn.

And Jake reminded me that sometimes the best teachers are those who are many years younger than me.


3 thoughts on “#BeNice: The Power of Youth Voices

  1. I agree but also with the technology comes a coarsening of manners and while there are scads of wonderful young people their knowledge is obtained by the trial and error of their elders. Some youth are shocked by the brainwashed American Idol mindset.

    Ultimately it will be succeeding generations will solve problems by trial and error themselves.

  2. A wonderful reminder. Thank you Jake and Jamie. Even little children are teachers. We learn so much from eachother. 🙂

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with your post. Especially the controversy that most adult thinks young adult will have to learn a lot. As a young adult myself, I think majority are judging us based on what is happening as a whole rather than pinpointing the individual themselves. Yes, our culture is reckless and out of control but there is still most of us that is very old school and live life in a very meaningful way. Personally, I don’t think age matters but maturity. Let’s face it, it’s the 21st century and there is a lot that happening compare to old days but at the same time there is a lot of good opportunities to take advantage of and make yourself a better person.

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