5 easy ways to support the youth in your community
“Kids today!” It’s the lament of older generations the world over, but clearly, you’re here to help young people rise, not to keep them down.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to:
1. See the person, not the stereotype
Did you know hating on the younger generation has been going on in western civilisation for around 2,000 years? Seriously! Even back in the day. Thankfully, nowadays, we’re much more enlightened… Well, at least some of us are. We’re starting to realise things aren’t always as they seem. The world isn’t black and white. Not everyone enjoys the same privileges.
The young person before you is not the two-dimensional character you think you know. Listen to their stories. Practice putting yourself in their shoes and see where it leads you.
2. Practice patience and understanding
‘Kids today’ might appear vastly different to how you were. On the inside, however, they’re the same as they’ve always been – a messy mix of confidence and low self-esteem, enthusiasm and apathy, vulnerability and invincibility, selfishness and kindness. A lot like all of us, come to think of it.
There’s added complexity to teenagers, however, and this is not only down to hormonal surges. According to neuroscience, the brain remodels during the teenage years. Updates to the primal portions of the brain occur first, and these heighten the brain’s emotional reactions. The frontal cortex – with its calming, rational influence – doesn’t come fully into play until adulthood.
This battleground of emotions and hormones are worth remembering, especially when you come up against behaviour that upsets, frustrates or mystifies you. Also remember that this too shall pass – at about the age of 25. In the meantime, model the behaviour you expect and help them build their decision-making and problem-solving skills.
3. Make way for fresh ideas
Despite your many years of experience, there’s always room for fresh ideas and a new perspective. Young people are renowned for looking at longstanding issues in unique ways and coming up with brilliant solutions. Even when the ideas don’t stack up, a fresh perspective will often illuminate new lines of enquiry, so make room at the table.
When young people see their ideas being listened to and acted on, it’s inspiring and empowering. They begin to see themselves as capable citizens and active agents of change.
4. Join the call to #RaiseTheRate
Most young Australians have the resources they need to survive and thrive. Still, there’s a significant minority who live in poverty, through no fault of their own. We know these kids firsthand.
While it makes sense socially and economically for the Government to support our young people adequately, current Newstart and Youth Allowance rates go nowhere near covering today’s basic living costs. In fact, the rate has barely changed in 25 years!
An unlikely coalition of voices, including the Business Council of Australia has been lobbying the Government to #RaiseTheRate for a while now. Will you
5. Support organisations that support young people
Helping young people stay in school, providing safe accommodation, and getting them ‘job ready’ are just some of the ways we help vulnerable young people thrive like their peers. In our area of Sydney alone, we can see up to 200 young people a day who have little to no social or financial support.
By supporting community organisations like ours, you support the youth in your community now and into the future. And that’s good for all of us