Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Power of The Teenager

Last Wednesday I was thrilled to participate in the maternal birth kit assembly that a local church's youth group, G3, initiated! They learned of our project and wanted to help.

So, like our online initiative, they made kits available for purchase and then they assembled them.

It was amazing. And here's why.

1. I watched a 15 year old speak to her peers about how teenagers are able to move the world, change the world and impact others to stop the hurt and make a difference for those who are hurting.

2. I watched a group of about 150 teenagers work together to assemble 300 kits!

3. I further understood why it is that my husband and I don't always see eye to eye. Let me explain. :)

This particular youth group has enough students that during their teaching times they break off into small groups. The middle schoolers are broken up by gender I think. Before the assembly began one of the group leaders said to me, "Can my boys opt out of this?" I of course said no! And one of the leaders of the entire youth group said, "Yes, they absolutely can opt out of this!! I know his boys!"

My first mistake.

Well, his boys, and he, didn't opt out.

The middle schoolers went first. A group of about 15 6th-8th grade boys gathered around a 7 foot table filled with string, soap and baby blankets with darting eyes and faces that looked like they just WANTED to get into trouble! The energy radiated off of them somehow! (I actually felt calm around these kids, which isn't a feeling I experience often!)

They were fidgety, wanting to get rid of their energy somehow. That came out through punches, wrestling matches and just overall ripping on each other. They all stood there and continued to let their energy out until the leader looked at me and said, "Tell us what to do!"

Mistake number 2.

So I started instructing them quickly because I knew I didn't have much time. Telling them what all went in and how to pass the bag around. The continued to look at me. And fidget.

Mistake number 3.

Then it dawned on me what I should do. I started pointing at them and barked orders. "You pick up the soap and put it in the ziplock bag! You put the string in! You put an alcohol wipe in!" "You fold the plastic sheeting!"

Mistake number 4.

Fold plastic sheeting? That boy looked at me like I had horns growing out of my face.

Okay. I showed him how to fold the plastic sheet and stuff it in the ziplock bag.

Their eyes started to focus. They had a mission to complete and it was game on. It was a race.

Mistake number 5. I should have said it wasn't a race.

I left.

I left and let the men leaders of that group do what they do best. Work with middle school boys.

I walked to the table beside them - a table of middle school girls. Calm. Cool. Collected. No punching, no yelling, no wrestling. Just simple organization.

What a difference. It just explains a lot.

And then I went back to the guys table. They were done! They had stuffed all those bags and assembled all those kits in about 3 minutes flat. Their competition, energy and fidgetiness is what made them be successful.

I have always felt a nervousness about having a son become a teenager. Now I'm excited to see this phenomenon of a middle school male in action.

I have a greater respect for teenagers after that night. These kids were hard workers. They made 300 kits happen in about 20 minutes. They worked together with a common vision and they made it happen. They made a tangible difference, even though they'll probably never see it. Incredible.

Thank you G3 for your incredible efforts! 300 kits are en route to Haiti!

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