Photo: Teenagers - this future is yours!

Teenagers engage in their future. (Credit: adamscotti via Flickr)

A recent interview for Verve Girl got me thinking about the role of teenagers in creating a sustainable reality.

My own kids are small. And while I hope that our lifestyle choices teach them to think of themselves as part of system of interconnected species with a responsibility to act in consideration of that delicate balance, I mostly encourage them to chase grasshoppers, see pictures in the clouds and play with fairies in the garden. Childhood, at its best, is a time of innocence and imagination.

But when does that change? When do we start empowering our youth to take on some of the responsibility of adulthood?

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My seven-year-old sat down a few days ago to write a letter to our MP. He is frustrated by the size of his classroom and the number of kids that fill that small space. After exploring all reasonable avenues for change within his small sphere of influence — namely asking his parents to request a larger classroom (there isn't one), a smaller class (we all know how that goes) or a new school to accommodate all the kids (there isn't money for that, dear) — he took the logical next step. He engaged in the democratic process.

He'll be eight in a few months, double digits in a couple of years and a teenager before I blink. I hope and pray that as a young man, he continues to make his voice heard.

It's been my experience that teenagers have brilliant minds, superfluous energy, time to commit to change and empathy oozing from their hormonal pores. Youth today have experienced the results of a society driven by economic gain with little regard for deeper understanding of happiness, balance and respect. They are uniquely positioned to have grown up during a time when climate change went from being the boogeyman in the closet to being the reality of the day.

They are also coming of age during the tiny window of time left to make critical changes that will determine the course of history.

While we adults are chasing our tails trying to restore a yesterday's reality, teenagers can't help but question the status quo! From their vantage point, they can ask what does a happy, healthy, reality look like? And they just might have the capacity to envision a better way.

Let's empower our teenagers. Tell your students, your nieces, your nephews and your neighbours to hold us accountable. Snub the adults. Prove us wrong. Grab hold of the future and take it on!

Share your stories about inspired youth and win your favourite teen a David Suzuki Foundation T-shirt, signed by the ultimate source of inspiration!

Tovah Paglaro
David Suzuki's Queen of Green

P.S. You can read the interview that inspired this post in an upcoming edition of Vervegirl.

February 27, 2013

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