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Giving youth wings

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By The Staff

This week I spent some time with some pretty insightful students. Mrs. Romero’s Life Smarts class at Los Alamos High School was gracious enough to have me over to speak about Assets.

It actually turned into a well rounded discussion about youth. We discussed how they can contribute to decisions that affect their community.

As adults we need to give serious thought to seeking input from groups of average students. By average students, I’m not talking about education, finances or anything that has a connotation of being less than great.

I mean contacting the average Joe, the man on the street, every man. These students don’t necessarily belong to a group, club, sport or organization. They are just as insightful, just as educated and just as reasonable as their higher profiled counterparts.

We need to make opportunities for them to  honestly provide input.

We need to communicate with them on their level. Once again, I don’t mean anything lesser by that statement.

It means conversing with them in the technological forms we may not be used to. It means hearing things that might surprise us. It means meeting them where they congregate.

Another group I crossed paths with were the Youth Mobilizers.

When some survey data obtained by Mesa Public Library wasn’t representative of enough teens, Linda Daly of the YMCA suggested the use of the young data detectives.

The students speaking on the project Wednesday night were Josh Dolin and Ana Pabian.

The whole team garnered 300 responses in a very short period of time.

The data yielded some valuable information for students between 12 and 18 years of age.

All of the responses may not have been what we wanted to hear.

Perhaps in a few instances, they may even have been offensive, but guess what? They knew we were responsible enough and reasonable enough to handle it.

As adults we need to know that it is a two-way street.

Our youth are open to understanding why rules are made and why decisions come down the way they do, they just want their 2 cents, like everybody else, so they can understand why.

Another wonderful thing I heard this week that applied to the teenagers is that as parents and caregivers, we have to let them try something with the belief that we have given them the tools to handle a given situation.

When I was a kid, my parents would call it “enough rope to hang yourself.”

You were given the chance and if you messed it up, there would be heck to pay. So if you have a teen, think about it. Try and let them spread those wings every once in a while before they leave the nest.

One mother told me recently that she has told her daughter, I’d prefer that you might dislike me sometimes and learn something ,than like me all the time and learn nothing.

See we do learn something new every day.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets Coordinator for Los Alamos and can be reached at 661-4846. You can sign up for weekly Assets newsletters by going to www.AssetsInAction.info.

Assets In Action is conducting a food drive this month at all Los Alamos Public Schools, the Los Alamos Public Health Office and the Betty Ehart Senior Center.

A March on Hunger continues through the end of March. Assets In Action is sponsored by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and State Farm Insurance.