Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Read the original news release here:
If you don't have time to click on that, the basic idea is that this 18 year old girl created a device that can fully charge a cell phone in 20 seconds. For many 18 year old's, their dreams are not nearly so lofty. Just last week when asking a young person how their week was they responded, "Well... I didn't get arrested!" What is the difference? If I knew an answer that could be applied to turn a troubled kid into a brilliant inventor, then maybe I could be feature in the New York Daily News, like this girl.
The truth is, that kids are people, not projects. We need to approach each one differently. It is not about comparison, it is about value. For the kid I work with, not getting arrested may actually be a bigger accomplishment than the latest tech invention. If I don't value that, I am only going to compound the problem. The universal principle is to be someone that actually takes the time to listen, encourage and dream big each kid. It is why we have the slogan in our organization of: We see the hope and potential in EVERY young person. Do you?
at 11:08 AM
Youth Workers gather to learn, network
Larry Bumgardner is a child therapist that was brought in by the Indiana Youth Institute to present at what was called a Youth Worker Cafe at a local library. If you have time to read the post, you should. It was affirming to hear why he belives that the world needs youth workers. It ties in nicely with a post I wrote on the same issue (although my post came from the "real experts" in youth culture, the young people themselves). Check out the video post here:
I bring this up because not everyone knows why youth workers exist. Not even the youth workers themselves. Unless we start to understand the need for people to do our job we are not every going to be respected as we should in the field. I am impressed that in places outside of North America, youth workers are seen as vital components in the life of young people, while often times here we are seen as little more than people that host fun events and that are not mature enough to get a real job. This is shockingly apparent in the pay scales for most youth workers.
Part of this is training. I love the concept of the youth worker cafe hosted at the library. If we start to take our jobs more seriously, connect with others around us and seek to make ourselves more effective in our work, I think we could see a revolution in the quality of youth work, longevity of youth workers and a strong impact on the lives of young people. If groups like IYI exist in your area find out about how to get connected. If not, create your own groups and up the ante in what it means to be a (pro) youth worker.
at 10:53 AM
The site, Green-Label.com is a site that fills a bit of a gap in connecting young people with news and information that would interest them such as Art, Music and Fashion. Whether or not it draws in kids is a side point to why I bring it up. For the young people I work with it is a cool site to show them. For youth workers and parents it could be a good source to keep an ear to the ground so to speak. If you're reading this you are probably already interested in the topic. They certainly have the resources to post more that I do on the trending topics in the lives of teens.
at 10:31 AM
1. Where are these issues arising from?
This issue is brought up this week with from the viral video introduced by the beauty products company Dove. You can view the video here.
Inspirational right? This video seems to say that these negative body image issues come, as we expected, from the inside. That we really are better looking than we think and that other people don't notice the flaws that we see in ourselves. I doubt that I would have taken the time to share that video if I hadn't come across this article in Scientific America by Ozgun Atasoy entitled:
You Are Less Beautiful Than You Think
You can read the post by clicking on the picture above, but basically it refutes the dove ad campaigns premise by introducing the scientific studies that give evidence to the opposite conclusion. We as a culture tend to think of ourselves as better looking than average. Of course, as the article points out, we tend to think of ourselves as better drivers, better workers and better students than average as well. Somewhere between these two extremes lie the truth.
My opinion is that the ideas of what is beautiful or not come from external sources such as advertisements from beauty product companies, magazines and celebrity worship. It leads to comparison to others either positively or negatively. I wonder what this ad campaign would be like among some of the "mean girl" circles in the high school hallways where kids berate each others appearances behind each others backs. Probably wouldn't help to sell products if the conclusion was "you're ugly - fix it". It is much better to say "you're beautiful - enhance it". Both of which are faulty assumptions and do not lead to good things.
2. What long term effects do these perceptions have on society?
I could speak to this issue for a long time, but the first thought that came to my mind as I was reading all of these things came from Proverbs 31:30
Charm can be deceiving,
and beauty fades away,
but a woman
who honors the Lord
deserves to be praised.
Now whether you respect the Bible or not, look at the implications of this quote. It is the unseen stuff that is the most valuable to concentrate time on. As a society we need to stop judging each other based on the external. The older I get the more of a reality this becomes. When I am honest with myself I can see that I simply can't fight gravity as well. I have more wrinkles, gray hair, sags, bumps and imperfections. What if we took the time to find out more about the lasting characteristics of a person. Their beliefs, their values, their strengths. I like spending time with older people because they can't impress you with their looks and you take more time to listen to their hearts.
3. What can we do about it?
I think it is better to try to help young people learn how to think rather than try to impose rules. For instance, I can say: stop thinking about that zit on your nose. Of course that would be humiliating, unhelpful and counter productive. All that kid would think about is that zit - and what a jerk I am.
I think what I will take from this is starting to talk more about my own heroes. People I have come to love because of their viewpoint on life instead of their external attributes. People like:
at 10:16 AM