It’s National Youth Week, so why should we celebrate the youth of this nation?

By Celeste Larkins

The youth of Australia are important to society and its functioning. They are our next generation of tradespeople, teachers, doctors and lawyers, so they need our support. The years of youth can be a time of struggle, dealing with family issues or friends, as well as pressures to ‘fit in’ at weekend booze parties. Then there are schooling pressures and the looming question of ‘What will I do with my life?’. Most of us probably remember this awkward stage in our lives.

If we believe the portrayal of the news headlines youth are all drug-taking, alcohol-abusing, party-crashing, stealing, abusive and disrespectful. Really?

Last week, I was with a group of female teenagers who are disengaged from school. They are part of a program that tries to motivate students to learn in ways that are more relevant to their situation.

The youth coordinator from the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS) asked me to help the girls develop radio messages promoting the GRAMS youth day, a fun day for youth to access services appropriate to their needs.

Initially, we had concerns that the teenagers wouldn’t be interested in designing radio messages, especially as it was the last week of school and we had limited time. But the teenagers couldn’t contain themselves with excitement. Some were shy but everyone made sure that all were involved in the message development process. It was lovely to see these young people looking out for one another.

As we went around helping each group, they shared with us their ideas and took on board any suggestions we made. After recording, they all were proud of themselves, especially those who were shy and struggled initially, and eager to hear the messages broadcast. Afterwards, their teacher told us that she was amazed at what the girls did in the hour and how engaged they were in the activity.

These young people were polite and respectful, eager to be involved in developing messages promoting the GRAMS youth day to their peers. We hope we get a chance to do more of these workshops with the teenagers.

If ever you wonder what is to become of the next generation, remember those who are trying to help themselves and their peers develop into compassionate people. Celebrate our youth. They give so much back to all of us. And, on a final note, just to let you know, it wasn’t so long ago that I was a teenager, which I am pretty chuffed about!

Watch the video below with the messages that the group developed: