A lot of good. Maybe more GOOD than we can imagine. Why?
Let me tell you how 7 teenage voices will change the world.
|Ladies and gentlemen, meet the game changers!|
It all started with a little conversation that, when summed up greatly, went something like this:
“Getting our voices out there matters? How do we do that? [yada, yada, blogging] Will you teach us how to blog?”
That was pretty much the gist of the conversation I had with this group of kids after a talk I gave in April 2015. The topic was youth ingenuity. The attendees, almost all adults, mostly educators, social innovators and social sector folks just happened to include this small group of 15 and 16 year olds. My message to the group was that we can’t afford for their voices to be unheard. Why? Because they will change the world.
I developed a class for these kiddos and began teaching it as a volunteer on June 22, 2015.
Today is July 13, 2015. I will meet these kids at 4:30 this afternoon for our 4th class. How did we get here and where are we going with this? It is quite simple. These youth, facing many unimaginable hardships, had the excitement and curiosity for life that young people innately have. They also had a chance meeting with an adult who they thought might have something to offer them. That adult was me and, like every other adult in the world, I know that it is my job – and my pleasure – to teach children what they want to know. There is so much talk and frustration about the state of education in our nation and world that we often fail to hear the beautiful stories of our young people excited to learn. So here is that story, the first installment of many to come.
“Finding My Voice”
Not only is today our fourth class, it is also the day a film team is coming to class to help tell our story. What began as a small volunteer experience for me is becoming a beautiful example of a need for our youth. The class isn’t just about blogging, as writing a blog is merely a vehicle, a communication tool. The lessons I teach the kids go much deeper. These are kids who have very deep stories and experiences of the painful truths that exist for teenagers in America. They are urban teens of color with the struggles, safety concerns and challenges that exist in their reality, almost completely unknown, unheard and undervalued by the rest of the world. And I do mean the rest of the world. Just as we don’t hear about and easily avoid tuning into the realities for children all across this planet.
In my class, the topics we delve into include truth, integrity, vulnerability,boundaries, personal safety online, creative self expression, self-confidenceand so much more. In a class of 7 students, I have seven entirely different voices, expressing themselves in seven beautifully different ways.
While my work is largely focused on teaching entrepreneurship, 21st century and “soft” skills, workforce readiness, career planning and the like, success with all of these lessons – typically triggering social-emotional issues for young people – begins with helping students find their self-confidence. There is no better way that I have found in my 15 years in education than to help students find their voices while they learn about and prepare for the real world. So, I named the class “Finding My Voice”. And wow, they are doing that in ways I could never have imagined.
So why are we filming our fourth weekly class? Because the has become bigger and more significant than we originally thought. What was at first a small summertime course has become a vision for a six month class that not only guides these students through the social and personal experience of stepping into confidence and expression of their truth, it will inspire others as well. It will be a peer-to-peer mentoring training that allows these super seven kids to learn personal gifts and self-management that they can then coach and inspire the next group of 7 students through, inspiring healthier choices for themselves and others. When students witness their peers doing well and achieving, the results can be a mixed bag. Rather than ostracizing the one kid who is choosing to do better, this is a small group who are, together, doing GOOD. Peer pressure is less likely when the kids have each others’ backs. And what’s more, the experience of these seven kids is something other kids can look forward to having themselves in six months’ time, with their own small group of peers.
How do we keep this going? We need to raise money. A crowd funding campaign will be forthcoming, complete with a video and an appeal from all of us to support a small group of youth whose voices will do a lot of good in the world – the kind of GOOD the world desperately needs right now.
This class will be a powerful, fun and beautiful example of personal growth, empowerment and self-expression. That the kids are not at all isolated from the world in this experience – this is quite deliberately the point, actually. A self awareness of their place in the world has already been born for these kids, rooted in compassion for the readers in similar situations all around the world. And their hearts are growing: they hope to inspire other young people in every corner of the world simply by being themselves, speaking their truths, and using the medium of blogging on the great social equalizer that is the Internet.
The kids and I want to know:
Have you spoken your truth today?
It might just change the world.
About the Author:
Amy Carrier has been building new solutions in education since 2000. She is known for empowering teens to become entrepreneurs teaching them how to create their own unique solutions to problems in their communities. Amy has been interviewed on CNN about teaching business and entrepreneurship in schools.
Follow and read more of Amy’s writing on her blog here.
Visit her website www.EmpowermentThroughEducation.com and sign up in the footer for the quarterly newsletter.