There is a widespread misconception surrounding teenagers and their influence on our society. Because of their age, teenagers are usually seen as up to no good, rebels without a cause, not taken seriously by authorities. They are thought to occupy themselves with frivolous matters instead of choosing to work towards a better future for themselves. If I had to fill a questionnaire as to the extent I agree with the statement above, ‘strongly disagree’ would not even begin to cover how much against the notion I am. Teenagers are the next generation and as such, given the opportunity, they are capable of changing quite a lot around them.
How can you go about making changes, then? How can you make an impact on this world? According to the UNDP, there are certain general ideas to keep in mind when embarking on this life-changing journey:
1) Know your rights: there are a lot, so get to it.
Knowing your national and international rights will make it easier for you to know whether you are being treated unfairly, allowing you to fight back if so. No one can take your rights away from you and this is what you should keep in mind, first and foremost.
2) Learn about local issues
Rome was not built in a day, and as such you may not find yourself directly involved in a world-changing opportunity. Start small with your community. Try to find out about the issues your community is facing and see how you can draw attention to it, it will help you come up with solutions. These issues could be anything from local transportation to improving your neighbourhood. Nothing is too small and insignificant when you wish to take action and care about it.
One of the most important skills, knowing how to network has its benefits on a personal, professional and social level. Access to social media will allow you to network with like-minded individuals all around the world, and to discuss and exchange ideas. You can also gather individuals from your community, people who wish to make improvements locally and who might also be on board your more ambitious plans.
4) Join online campaigns
Learn more about a cause you’re passionate about from other organisations around the globe. You might not connect with them or join them, but you will certainly get inspired.
5) Speak out and spread the word
Social media has caused quite a controversy. Stories of cyber-bullying and irresponsible use mean it has a reputation akin to give and take, but you can always use some form of it for a noble cause. Do not be afraid to speak out about what you advocate, just think before you post and make sure that you have your sources straight and your language appropriate. People will appreciate your honesty and interest in any matter. Spread the word and try to engage as many as you can. You are not alone.
We all need some inspiration to get us going and, fortunately, examples of bright teenagers are abundant. Get ready to be in awe by what some of your peers have accomplished .
Pola is an avid reader and passionate about anything education related. She is an English teacher and has taught students from diverse backgrounds, both privately and in the classroom. Her studies in English Language and Literature and International and Comparative Education have provided her with the necessary skills and knowledge to further pursue matters related to education - and to write for OOL.