Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominicans
People in the US and around the world
frequently seeking answers to the question: “How do we reach youth today in a
positive and meaningful way” There is a growing generation gap and often young
people are searching for hope and meaning, a spiritual grounding and a sense of
purpose for their fragmented lives. Most also want to be respected and more
involved in addressing the needs of our time in a broken and fragmented world.
Some are already getting into leadership roles and making a difference.
would enable adults to offer life and hope today and help youth to use their
gifts in creating a better world for all people? We ask ourselves: “What is the
central truth of our lives? How do we nurture it and live the values we
profess?” Gandhi once said: “We must be the change we want see happen in our
world.” Then young people will be inspired to be part of the solution to today’s
challenges and to share their efforts with the global community. Many today have
global networks to connect with people across lines of culture, creed and class
and this gives them many opportunities to imagine and create the kind of world
that will be good for all and at the same time enrich their own lives. It will
take the material and spiritual gifts of everyone to create such a world.
are youth seeking? In my conversations on this topic over the years, there are
many common trends in their search.
Many today are living with labels and often feel they have
little or no value. We need to help youth get beyond the labels and
use their multiple talents in the building of a better world.
They are looking for a safe and healthy community, especially
in a time of deep recession and extreme economic problems. They need
a safe and secure environment to keep their hope and sense of
Youth need listening ears today to help them discover their
own path in a struggling world and to use their energy toward peace
and community building.
Many lack a basic education and need to learn more skills to
survive. Some of our local communities have established training for
work and life skills, have involved youth that have little or no
work experience, and walked with them while they were seeking work
and after they started their first job, to make sure they would be
successful. Employers are recruited that would give them a chance to
work and use the time and energy required to help them be
Parents also need to help youth develop their skills, stay
away from dangerous habits such as drugs and gangs, that hinder
their chances of success in life.
Spiritual values are very important and are often missing in
the lives of families today. Awareness of such values needs to be
restored An awareness of the divine presence will bring a sense of
security especially in troubling times and will encourage people to
relate to each other in ways that are affirming, encouraging, and
motivating for positive action for the good of all people. Churches
and other organizations can be very helpful in leading youth to
meaningful action to alleviate poverty and bring hope. One such
example came to my attention recently in MN. where high school
students from Apple Valley School were recruited and trained to
spend several weeks in one of the poorest place in the world to
learn about poverty and what people go through in their survival
efforts. They were interested in learning from the people how best
to respond to the needs of those in dire poverty. Information was
provided on global warming and how it affects the poor. Go to
www.TwinCities.com for more information. Other groups with
similar hopes and goals are springing up across the US and beyond.
That surely is a sign of hope and calls us to be alert to such
opportunities wherever we are. Youth are the adults and community
builders of the future and need to be affirmed and trained for their
interviewed a group of high school students in a local Catholic School in
Racine, WI and they offered these ideas:
Youth need adults who will listen to them and not just talk
about business all the time. Listen to their concerns about school,
relationships, the challenges they face and other issues, and when
appropriate, offer some advice. Help them face life’s issues and walk
through tough times with courage and hope.
Offer words of encouragement and gratitude when they see young
people doing good things. Listen to and learn from youth about their
concerns and hopes.
Get involved in youth groups and help them find ways to help in
responding to community issues and helping others. Demonstrate ways they can
be leaders in their communities. Alert them to the need to use the media
Encourage youth to be their best selves and assure them that
there are endless ways to help create a good community.
World Future Society has frequently encouraged people to include all in their
planning and implementation of plans including older adults, people that are
challenged mentally, physically, and especially our youth.
move will provide more security, a sense of worth and purpose in life for youth
today and will enhance the life of the entire community.
consider ourselves honored to accompany youth in their search for a meaningful,
hope-filled and productive life for all people. No effort is too small to make a