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National Editorials & Columns

Kids these days aren't like people say they are

"Kids today are lazy and self-centered."

"They are entitled and just don’t care about others."

I have heard these statements over and over and if I’m being honest, I’ve even caught myself saying them before. While these statements are true for some kids, the same statements could have been made about some kids when I was a kid 20-some years ago and when my parents were growing up 50-some years ago. And, I may add, these same statements could be made about some adults today! Society has changed over the last several decades.

In my opinion, it has just become more acceptable to have an “all about me” attitude. But I do think there is still so much good and so much giving happening, we just might not hear about it all the time.

I have the pleasure of going into several of the local high schools for the Youth Philanthropy Program as well as interacting with teenagers in my own family or friend circle and I see a different side. I see teenagers who get to school at 7am for weightlifting, stay after school until 8pm for play practice, arrive home from an away game at 9pm, or work at the local grocery store until 10pm several times a week, all in addition to a full day of school, homework, and sleep. Now I’m not sure about you, but lazy doesn’t come to mind when hear that. Being a kid today is very different from when I was a kid. With the expectations to excel in something and be involved in everything, kids today or so busy, but still have time to be decent human beings.

The students I interact with care about more than Snapchat and Instagram. They truly care about environment, the current drug problem, effects of poor parenting, health and nutrition, and one another. While I don’t always agree with the “everyone must be included and get an award” mentality, maybe it HAS provided today’s youth with more compassion and empathy toward others? From my experience, teens are typically more accepting of their peer’s differences than many adults. I personally know teenagers who have traveled to Africa and Haiti to serve others, teenagers who regularly hand out food to those in need, volunteer with Special Olympics, tutor other students who are struggling, stand up for those being picked on, and advocate for change on a number of topics. Each of these teenagers I speak of gain nothing for their acts of kindness. These are not self-centered uncaring teenagers.

Working with the Youth Philanthropy Groups is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Each of my four groups are currently hearing from local organizations they chose based on the students’ interests and the organizations’ missions. The students always listen respectfully, ask good questions, and consider the impact each organization makes on their community when discussing approving grants to organizations. I always enjoy hearing an analysis of need and organization impact from the students’ perspective.

The Youth Philanthropy students from Coal City High School, Gardner-South Wilmington High School, Morris High School and Seneca High School are in the process of hearing from the organizations they have chosen and will continue to do so through March. In April, students will walk through the process of recommending organizations for grant funding to the Grants Committee at the Community Foundation of Grundy County. And in May students will present $25,000 in grants to the organizations they have chosen at an awards banquet! Watching the students make an impact on so many organizations that service Grundy County is just fun! Stay tuned to hear about the 2019 grant recipients.

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