Being a kid in today’s world is not easy. Just ask the experts—kids. There are more distractions and more demands on young peoples’ lives than ever before. And while it may be true that being a kid has never been altogether easy, what sets apart today’s crop of young people from past generations is the prevalence of stress and anxiety in their lives, as explained by a group of high school students at a recent Yes Network leadership development training.
In early March, nearly 50 high school kids from across Central Minnesota attended leadership training at St Cloud State University as part of the Yes Network’s youth development program. Participants took part in micro sessions on how to understand themselves and others around them, they played games and engaged in teamwork-building exercises, and they shared stories about growing up in today’s world—a world that seems to grow more complicated every day.
“These kids helped us to understand things better and see the possibilities in our kids and in our communities,” said Jerry Sparby, Founder and CEO of the Yes Network. “Kids are feeling disconnected from others around them,” he said. “Most believe that social media is the culprit, but we believe that it is only one of the multiple reasons. It might be diet, chronic stress in parents, parents bringing home stress from work, lack of attachment to parents, friends, and others in their neighborhoods.”
The Yes Network has been working in St Cloud, Waite Park, and Sauk Rapids for the past seven years to help kids build friendships in their neighborhoods and to change communities by engaging high school students in leadership opportunities like the recent event at SCSU which seemed to resonate with the young people in attendance.
“I wish the other kids at my school and in my neighborhood could go through the leadership training. It is really helping me to understand myself,” said a program participant.
“I met so many new friends. I had no idea these kids were no different than me…” said another participant. “They have some of the same issues at home and in their neighborhoods as we do.”
The Yes Network’s mission to create vibrant, loving, prosperous neighborhoods through our presence and engagement with the children and families in the places where they live.
“It is our vision to train high school kids to become mentors and leaders, and to provide opportunities for kids to jump rope, play games, create art projects and build friendships along the way.” said Sparby.
If the recent training event is any indication of future success for the young people involved, there are promising things to come. Just leave it to the experts.