Friday, November 2, 2012

WE are the Adults

This week I had the privilege of attending We Day in our province.

For those of you who may not be familiar with We Day here's some background. It was born out of the charity Free the Children, and according to their website We Day is the movement of our time, bringing together a generation to change the world through an inspirational event and yearlong educational initiative but this is one occasion where words are not enough. Watch this video, then we'll talk.

Inspired? Me too!

A screen image from We Day
As I sat in that arena, surrounded by 17, 000 excited, inspired young people, I felt humbled and challenged. Mikhail Gorbachev, Spencer WestHannah TaylorMolly Burke and a dozen other passionate speakers took the stage and testified to the difference one person can make and the kids ate it up! Their enthusiasm and overwhelming confidence in their ability to be world changers reignited a fire in me to be a world changer also.  

It also had me asking, "How are a bunch of kids going to change the world?"

Justice Murray Sinclair addressed the kids in the morning. He opened their eyes to the dark history of residential schools and the scars this generation of aboriginal youth still carry with them because of this destruction of family in their community.  He spoke of equality, value and citizenship. He spoke of hope, reconciliation and respect.  At the end of his short message he had the crowd repeat after him, "We are the best. We are the brightest. We are the future. We are the change."

While I was listening to him, it struck me, the answer is simple. Its us. The adults. It falls to us to believe in them, support them and guide them. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of the gift that these passionate, inspired kids are to our world. We need to step up and tell them, "Yes you can!" And then we need to help them.

We need to educate them. We need to direct them. We need to empower them. We need to channel their passion, their righteous indignation into a productive stream of action. We need to tell them that they are worthy, that they are powerful, that they are precious. And then we need to tell them again. And again and again.

A screen image from We Day
I believe the only and best way to protect our kids from bullying, depression, self harm and suicide is to educate them on their own value. Now, that's different from empty praise of their beauty or skills. Their value lies in who they were created to be, their chance to have this one life to make a difference, to really live. They need to know that its no accident that they are here, on this planet, at this time. They need to understand that there are things that only they can do, people only they can reach. Once they grasp on to this truth, once they understand they have a purpose in life, they truly will be unstoppable.

So, like I said, it falls to us. The parents, the teachers, the coaches, the neighbours, the youth leaders, the pastors, the volunteers. The adults. It is time to empower who they are, not only what they can do. It is time to grow character, not only skill. It is time to recognize passion, not only popularity. It is time to seek change, not fame. It is time to Be the Adults. It is time to lead.

WE are the best.
We are the brightest.
WE are the future.
WE are the change.


It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.  ~Frederick Douglass

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