When Youth Get In The Mix - The Power of Engaged Youth

I think too many young people worry or dream about what they’re going to become someday and forget to focus on what they can do right now.  At an event in Nebraska I talked to a wonderful Salvation Army youth leader in her 50’s who had spent 30 years working with junior high and high school kids. She said, “Give me a team of adults and we’ll have a productive meeting. Give me a team a youth and we’ll change the world.”  I agree whole-heartedly.  Last month we met a young lady in Edmonton, Alberta that is changing the world and inspiring others to do the same. More on her later.

I have read a lot about the apathy of today’s youth, and yes, I see it too. I would argue, however, that the passion and energy is still there. It simply needs a target. I think a lot of the whole apathy problem is that kids aren’t seeing much in our culture to get excited about. Role models are shallow. Self is king. Being happy or feeling good trumps all, even when it’s obviously empty. Show a teenager something worth fighting for, or expose them to an injustice worth fighting against, and you’ll see a passion and energy not present in many adults.  Add to this the all important time factor. I’m a father of four kids who are six and under. I’ve been interrupted five times just trying to get these thoughts written out. Youth have time and energy.

If you are an adult, maybe the best use of your time is to get someone younger than you excited about something important. Show them something worthwhile, or worth fighting against. Give them some seed money, drive them around, get them organized, help them implement an idea they have bouncing around in their head. Most importantly, just be excited along with them.

If you are a young person, what are you doing with your time and energy? What are you doing to impact your culture? You can change the world. 

Last month The Panic Squad met an inspiring young lady who is doing a lot. Rachel Mix is 17. Last year her high school created an opportunity for students to form loveworks groups (www.ourloveworks.com) and create a project that would help oppressed or poor groups across the world. Taking on the challenge, Rachel and her friends started a group called Teens Against Violent Oppression, or TAVO. They started small with bake sales, highway clean-up etc. Other people got excited, they put on events, and raised over $7,000 for International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org). IJM does a number of amazing things including working to free the oppressed from sexual exploitation and slavery around the world.

The Loveworks project was huge success in itself. But Rachel wasn’t done. She had been exposed to something worth caring about and fighting for.  She had realized that her efforts could make a difference and she kept going with TAVO. She continued telling others that there are things and people in this world that are worth their time and money.  I know Rachel’s dad and heard about what she was up to.  So last month The Panic Squad partnered with TAVO and Vanguard College in Edmonton to put on another fundraiser, raising even more money to fight injustice, oppression and slavery.  The day after that event, Rachel was headed to Toronto. She had been invited by International Justice Mission to take part in a Justice Lab, where hand picked youth from all over are invited to meet with IJM leaders for info and training.  

Rachel is a pretty normal 17 year old. She likes music, movies and ice cream sundaes, she sleeps in way too late, sends and receives texts every five minutes and is embarrassed by her dad. 

And she’s changing the world.

How about you? What are you doing with your time and energy? What do you care about?  One of Rachel’s goals is to help other students create groups like TAVO.  Check out the TAVO Facebook page: TAVO. Drop her an email. Who knows what YOU may be able to accomplish with a little time and energy.