OPINION: Youth are doing incredible things

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By Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon

We have this curious habit of believing the worst about the generation following our own.

Millennials are the most self-absorbed generation ever, apparently.

Before them, Generation Xers were regarded by their elders as lazy.

It’s true that every generation has new challenges to navigate.

I was born in 1983 and through my teens saw the internet and cellphones become a part of our daily lives.

Teenagers now have to contend with those two things folded together, with a dose of social media thrown in for good measure.

The results can be vicious, with online bullying a serious problem our young people have to contend with.

It doesn’t mean we have more “bad” kids. Where a schoolyard fight 20 years ago might have been seen by 100 or so pupils, now it can be videoed and uploaded for everyone, including parents and the community to see.

That tendency to get caught up in the negative is hiding a pretty wonderful truth – that our young people are doing some incredible things.

Over the past six months I’ve visited dozens of schools across South Canterbury and Mid Canterbury, and met hundreds of amazing kids.

What they’re learning is remarkable. Where my old primary school was lucky to have a computer in the corner of a classroom in the early 90s, now some schools come equipped with 3D printers.

The young adults our education system is producing will be the most educated and advanced generation we’ve ever seen.

They’ll do some amazing things. Maybe a cure for cancer. Reversing the impact of humans on our environment. A manned mission to Mars.

It’s all within their grasp, and it’s in our power to encourage them to do it.

Next month the Canterbury Youth Awards will be held in Christchurch.

They’re a chance to highlight some of the exceptional young people we have in our community, and to encourage others to aim high and succeed.

There are seven region-wide awards, and an award that I’ve chosen to sponsor, the Andrew Falloon MP supreme youth award for Timaru.

The awards are open to anyone aged 12 to 24 who has contributed significantly to our community and demonstrated leadership and has an ability to motivate and positively influence others.

We have dozens and dozens of young achievers in our district who match that description, so I’m sure the awards will hard-fought.

The Timaru award comes attached to a $500 prize, and nominations are open. They close at the end of this month, so if you know of a worthy candidate please consider nominating them soon at www.youthvoicecanterbury.org.nz.

If you’d like more information, you’re welcome to get in touch with me at andrew.falloon@parliament.govt.nz or my Timaru office.