Your Voice Matters (YVM29) Because You Can, You Should
I discovered TEDxTeen last year and posted several of the talks from it on this blog, not only because the young people who gave those talks had done extraordinary things, but because by seeing them, they might inspire someone else watching to do extraordinary things themselves. I eagerly awaited this year’s edition of TEDxTeen so that I could see more outstanding young people and the ideas they had, and share them with you.
The Audacity of whY was this year’s theme. Too many things in life we take for granted and it takes a child’s curiosity and innocence to ask: why? Not only questions like, “Why is the sky blue?” but also things like, “Why do some people not have enough to eat?” or “Why do people get sick?” As adults, we often stop asking asking these types of questions, but it is those very questions which can lead to fundamental change in the world.
This year’s TEDxTeen host and introductory speaker was Chelsea Clinton. While Chelsea is no longer a teen, she became a public figure as a wide-eyed teenage girl living in the White House during her father’s term of office. She now works for the Clinton Foundation in several capacities, some of which she describes in the video below. One of the many aspects of her talk that stood out for me was the concept: Because you can, you should. It’s a simple statement that carries a deceptive amount of weight.
I’ve worked with young people in various capacities for many years. Often, in the past, it has been as a soccer coach. Recently, I began tutoring a handful of students in math and reading at my local Boys & Girls Club. I’ve done these things for many reasons. I believe working with kids helps keep me young at heart and it’s very rewarding to watch them grow and learn. Yesterday, I taught a young lady how to tell time. It’s a simple thing that we don’t even think about any longer as adults, like how to tie your shoes, but seeing it from the eyes of someone for whom it’s brand new is enlightening.
As a writer, it’s often helpful to look at things in this way, as if they were brand new. It forces me to view the world through a different perspective, either that of my characters or that of my readers, and dig down to what is really important. Hopefully, it helps me tell a better story.
Now, because of Chelsea’s wise words, I have another reason to continue writing and continue working with youngsters. Because I can, I should.