Leadership from Youth Today
There seems to be discontent and crises everywhere today. The climate is a catastrophe, democracy is threatened, and our communities continue to struggle. The pandemic rages on, politics are more divisive than in generations, and the economy vacillates wildly. A continuously weaving thread of possibility weaves together each of these challenges though.
Last week, I facilitated a conversation with youth from one of our programs in Compton, California, and another in Preston, United Kingdom. More than 20 young people ages 11 through 19 participated, all with one thing in common: They are working to change the world right now.
The students in Compton are working to support technology integration in their middle school, addressing issues of socio-economic disparity, bridging the digital divide, and creating community among diverse learners. The youth in Preston are organizing campaigns against period poverty, for LGBTTQQ awareness, and against ignorance and suffering. All of these young people are crossing borders and boundaries, creating new realities and challenging apathy and indifference. Their powers are steadily increasing as they change hearts and minds, shift policies and politics, and transform their generation through action.
This was yet another occasion for me to find hope with youth. Despite the apparent inability of adults to solve the most serious problems facing our world today, these learners and leaders are moving the needle through constant action, steady commitment, and empowered reflection. They’re using resources from Youth and Educators Succeeding and creating their own tools. Creating and accumulating knowledge and skills, they’re sharing with their peers and parents to help others. Ultimately, they’re shifting the future we will all share with practical, pragmatic, powerful action that will change all of our lives.
Listening to these youth last week reminded me that leadership from youth might be the very best pathway forward in our lives, whether in our schools, throughout our communities, or around the world. What do you hear when you listen?
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Adam F.C. Fletcher is available to consult, speak, and write.