Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Listening to Youth at "Power Filled Me"

At Union United Methodist Church on this past Wednesday, October 23rd, over 50 community members gathered to listen to a panel of young people discuss their lives.

The audience consisted mainly of adults. The primary rule of the evening, enforced by Reverend Kevin Jones, Clergy Liaison of the S.O.S. Clergy Action Network, was that the adults couldn't speak during the event. The night was specifically about listening in order to learn from the young people on the panel.

Panelists respond to questions
The panel consisted of about 15 young men in their teens and early twenties. While the audience listened, some taking notes, the young men answered questions asked by the youth facilitators. The questions were divided into three sections: the first focused on the general experience of being a teenager today, the second on the young people's priorities, and the third on ways that adults can act as allies to help young people succeed.

 The young people spoke honestly about their experiences of growing up, and what they feel they need from the adults around them. They all had unique experiences, successes, and challenges to share. Some were attending high school and others were not. Others had experienced the arrest of themselves or friends, or parents' divorce. Some strategies that the young men used to stay positive were rapping, playing ball, and hanging out with friends.

Some panelists said that they enjoyed going to school, while others felt stressed out by it. One young man, who had graduated, expressed that felt he was "doing everything by myself. No one taught me what to do after high school. I don't know what I'm doing." Another offered his desire to see "adults... actually work with you - instead of telling you what you're supposed to do, actually walk through it with you." Some ways that panelists felt that adults could help them reach their goals included creating more community spaces, sharing their own mistakes from their youth, and asking their children questions.

Throughout the night, S.O.S. staff and audience members posted quotes and responses from the panel on Twitter. Some of them are below:

The night ended with Reverend Jones thanking the panel for speaking for almost two hours. He encouraged the adults in the room to attend a follow-up session the next Wednesday, where they would be able to discuss, but not judge, what they had heard over the course of the evening. The follow-up session will occur tonight, 6 pm, at the Union United Methodist Church on 121 New York Avenue.

Audience members at Power Filled Me

1 comment:

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