Posts Tagged ‘Youth’

All Lives Enriched

May 4, 2009

First, some news: due to a current account problem I might not get a podcast up this week. I am working on it but I can’t make any guarantees on that. Rest assured that The Alder Fork Podcast will be back as soon as I can get it up.

Recently on the podcast, I discussed the Change the World Youth Challenge. I was working with Volunteer Hamilton to encourage youth aged 14-18 to volunteer during National Volunteer Week.  We received some media coverage but I wanted to use my space to congratulate the over 1200 students who volunteered last week. Collectively they contributed 7000+ hours to a number of local agencies.  Although the data is still being collected it appears that Hamilton has exceeded all other centres in Ontario.  I am absolutely amazed by the efforts of our young people.  We set out on this project with modest goals of 700 students (in a city of over 500 000 people) and 3000 hours.  It seems likely that the final results will give us more than double that.  Our success is a direct result of the efforts of teachers, administrators, and especially the students.  They took to this project with zeal, and I can honestly say that our future is in good hands.  I couldn’t find an exact number there must be around 80 000 – 100 000 students in this city.  We only counted registered students but I know that an equal number of unregistered students participated in volunteer activities during NVW, either because they volunteer every week, or because they participated in special events like the MS Walk of Earth Day Hamilton.

I am so proud of what young people have done in Hamilton.  For many of our participants this was just one stop on a lifetime of volunteering, and for others this is the beginning of something special.  Youth are often dismissed as troublesome or self-centred. I am grateful that I was able to witness quite the opposite in the many young people I encountered last week.  If you live in Hamilton, this is a good day to be proud of your city.

Talk Talk Talk

April 26, 2009

As part of my current job I spend a lot of time in high schools.  This has led to a lot of discussion and reflection about the differences between my school experience and what I observe now.  The students themselves act more or less the same.  There are still the same categories of people, from the wise cracking kids in the back of the room, to the shy, acheivers up front.  The swearing might be a bit more blatant and loud, but it isn’t that different than 10 years ago.  The one noticeable change is the proliferation of cell phones. When I was in high school the internet was a rlatively new idea, and I don’t think any of my friends had their own cell phone.  Today, a large portion of the students I see can’t go 3 minutes without texting someone.  The same is true of many adults now, but it’s startling to me that so many young people stay in almost constant contact with their peers.  How would they survive in a world where you could only reach your friends by phoning from your house, or knocking on their door.  I wonder how they will cope in the working world, where they won’t be allowed to repeatedly text or phone people.  In some ways it echoes back to my earlier post about The Machine Stops.

I also wonder what effect electronic conversation has on all of us as social beings.  I heard a report claiming that electronic relationships don’t nurture people the way real life encounters do.  Should we become a mostly digital society (a possibility that I’m not compeletely sold on)  I’m sure there are a great many negative consequences.  Since I prefer to deal in the present and past, I think the proliferation of cell phones among young people has mostly led to problems.  I don’t hate technology, but I do think we need to be careful what we do with it.  Take a look at this post from another blog because I think Neil Postman covers this territory in a superior manner.