There has been considerable talk already in the early days of Election 2013 about finding something for youth in the community to do to assuage the horrors of teen and tween boredom, particularly in summer, a time when there is no real structured activity to consume their idle hands and minds.
The suggestions for youth time occupiers are varied and each has merit if it is something youth in the community might have some actual interest in. But what must be considered is perhaps youth don’t want something to do.
Morinville has excellent opportunities for youth interested in sports, music, dance and art. You cannot throw a guitar pick in Morinville without hitting a young guitar player, and chances are he or she will pick up the pick and play you something they wrote. The rink, ball diamonds and soccer pitches are full of young athletes of varied abilities. Even the youth art club has a variety of young people working in a variety of artistic mediums, expressing themselves in creative ways.
Where the real hue and cry seems to be is among people whose children or grandchildren are not involved in existing activities. Perhaps they are missing the fact some youth don’t want structure; they just want to hang out with friends. Teen idleness scares us, and rightly so. Some youth get up to no good if left to their own devices. But the majority just like to hang out to laugh, giggle, and talk smack about those not currently in their fickle and ever-changing good books.
Reflecting back on a half century of living, the modern tween and teen’s desire to hang out is likely not much different than that of previous generations. Most of us survived it, and most of us learned important social skills and lessons about interacting with one another, what real and passing friendship is, and the importance of being at ease amongst out peers. Summer, fall, winter and spring were about being seen, and being seen to be as cool as one could reasonably look.
There have been many programs for youth put forth over the past two years, some by the Town and others by community groups or institutions. Most have failed, even the ones youth had said they wanted. While that left many in the community scratching their heads trying to figure out why the requested activity remained unsupported, we have failed to realize another thing from our own youth – what we want today may not be what we want tomorrow. The future rising pop star / club DJ of today could decide tomorrow they want to be a long-haul trucker because that is what is trending on Twitter or A&E had a cool reality TV show about them.
Fickleness is an inherent part of youth, and likely always has been, at least since the end of the Second World War, when children began to receive more of everything except parental expectations.
So while we are lobbying our next potential councillors and mayor to do more for youth, let’s lobby them to do more for youth if youth wants them to do more for them.
“I’m bored” is often youth’s way of saying there is no one cool to hang out with today. It does not necessarily mean we should build a pool, multiple tennis courts, and more opportunities to use the cultural centre for safe and chaperoned indoor camping weekends.
What this community needs to do is stop throwing spaghetti against the wall in the hopes some of it will stick. Instead, we need to ask ourselves if our youth are even interested in pasta at all. Perhaps they want pizza, that is providing we can serve it to them while it’s hot and they are still in the mood for a slice.