Adults Can Help Create Opportunities For Kids To Succeed Through Listening and Mentoring

By Jessica Mitchell

Whether or not you think today’s young people have something important to say depends a lot on how good of a listener you are. Our community is full of young people volunteering, creating and living with purpose each day. I have learned about courage, forgiveness, patience, flexibility and kindness from young people in our community.

Child prodigy and short story writer Adora Svitak spoke at TED in 2010 and delivered a speech titled “What Adults Can Learn from Kids.”

“You need to listen and learn from kids, and trust us and expect more from us. You must lend an ear today, because we are the leaders of tomorrow,” says Svitak, speaking to an audience of mainly adults. “The goal is not to turn kids into your kind of adult, but rather, better adults than you have been.”

She challenges us to consider the bold ideas and creative optimism of young people. Adults have the opportunity and the ability to make big changes in the lives of young people.

When I think of the adults who made a powerful impact on me as a child, I think of mentors who believed in me and challenged me. A teacher who went out of their way to make sure I had access to design programs when our high school didn’t offer a graphic design class or my first boss in college who allowed me to intern for his office with a relatively small work resume. Something as simple as listening and giving feedback to an idea or creating opportunities for a young person to lead make a huge difference in their lives. (And in turn, our own.)

After starting my job at Youth Resources I realized pretty quickly that our kids were probably always going to teach me more than I could teach them. We work with incredible students who are driven, creative, kind and smart. They spend time volunteering because they are passionate about our community, and their enthusiasm is contagious. We all have opportunities to learn from our young people and to provide safe spaces for them to expand their creative pursuits.

Svitak finished her TED Talk with this bold appeal to her listeners: “Kids need opportunities to lead and succeed. Are you ready to make the match?”

By creating these opportunities for children, we assure ourselves that the world will be great for us as we age. Consider donating to one of the many organizations in our community that work with young people, become a resource or mentor for a young person or reach out to a school to see what educational resources you or your business can provide to today’s students.

Jessica Mitchell is the Marketing & Design Coordinator at Youth Resources.