Today's blog is written by Chelsey Reese, an AmeriCorps Member on the Jacksonville Jaguars team at Matthew Gilbert Middle School who shares about her belief in the power of young people. 

Being young doesn't mean I know less.

One of the reasons I serve with City Year is because I believe in the power of young people. But what does that statement really mean? How can children be powerful? Some would argue that the concept of powerful children is a contradiction. Often times the immense power of young people is denied or devalued. It is true that in many ways our youth are inexperienced to the world and in need of guidance. This leaves many to think youth lack the capacity to make a difference. Add on the economic and societal disadvantages that many youth in underserved communities face, and these inaccurate assumptions increase significantly.

The fact of the matter is, all young people are equipped with something truly extraordinary that offsets these assumptions. What is this something I speak of? Potential. Our youth have the potential to become anything they want, to accomplish any goal they set, to overcome any challenge they face, and to create any future they imagine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s never too late to chase after your dreams no matter your age, but I think we can all agree there’s something liberating about a youthful spirit; a spirit unscathed by the circumstances that occur with time. It’s a  youthful spirit filled with immeasurable power.

AmeriCorps Member working with a student

This power I speak of is undermined by many. This attitude toward our youth is exhibited through the lack of resources that schools, teachers and classrooms face, through the unmet needs of promising students not getting what they deserve. 

Those committed to education, social justice, community engagement, and other forms of national service are the ones who truly believe in the power of young people. We believe in this power so much that we do all we can to combat these issues. And what fuels this belief? For my City Year team and I, it’s seeing students set goals and work hard to achieve them or move up in reading levels . It’s the “ah-ha” moment students get in their eyes when they master the curriculum standards or it's simply seeing a student maintain good attendance and school involvement despite personal adversities. It's about creating that life changing positive impact, even if just for one student.

Our belief in the power of young people is not only what motivates us to commit to a year of service, but it is one of the greatest factors in a child’s success. I urge us all to help our youth reach their greatest potential, to set our children up for success and to believe in the power of young people.

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