The LENS of youth! How we see the world through the lens of a child does not necessarily require a lot. But what it does entail is conscious adults understanding it is simple tools; an ear, and continual outlets, provided for the youth in order to share their ideas and stories.
Building youth leaders, really just takes adults listening, while providing the space for youth voice. Youth blossom with their families, peers and communities! Their voice is so very important, and when we listen and provide them growth and leadership opportunities to share, a brighter future will shine.
As adults if we look at the world with a trauma-focused lens, we start to see where cycles of leadership and voice have broken down and the areas ‘in need,’ to rebuild from a youth LENS.
I had the honor to interview Colby Brown, founder of The Giving Lens, to launch the ‘Culture of Repair’ series, to learn about the lenses they transform throughout the world.
The very talented Michael Bonocore, a lead team photojournalist and educator with The Giving Lens, was our second guest on our ‘Youth Indicators’ Series. It was anything short of spectacular, featuring the power of ‘youth voice and leadership,’ the evolution of tradition, and storytelling. While highlighting the beautiful story of Aigerem Askar, a 13-year-old Mongolian Eagle Huntress, in a cultural tradition, not historically including females and youth.
The Giving Lens sends photo educator teams all over the world who give back, by conducting international photography workshops with a “humanitarian twist.” They ‘volunteer their time and photographic talents to local grassroots NGO’s by documenting their work and teaching photography to the community as a tool for empowerment, self-expression, and storytelling.”
Make sure you listen to both episodes as well as Mark Lovett – Storytelling With Impact on the ‘Art of Respect’ series where we learned the powerful tools of storytelling.
The power of storytelling in all aspects of society, including influencing policy change, has never been more substantial. Combine that with a youth LENS and the results are riveting.
Shifting ones’ LENS, using trauma-focused mindsets, while understanding how storytelling tools can assist youth leadership and voice, (transcending generations) is the root of the ‘Culture of Repair’ Series.
The ‘Culture of Repair’ Series, dives into the past, listens in the present, and culminates a learning future together with heart!
Honorary Professor Norm Sheehan, a Wiradjuri man born in Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia, is the inspiration of this series. A guest on the ‘Art of Respect’ Series, it is with continual learning and honor to form this series. With humble vision to repair, learning from our elders, and helping frame new repaired lenses for everyone and all generations. Lenses that help our society truly understand what it means to respect all cultures, all living things, and the planet we inhabit.
Which means a LENS of HEART, RESPECT and REPAIR going forward for generations to come. A YOUTH LENS.
You can take most any viewpoint of repair; from suppression to equality, and redress to social and environmental justice. A STEWARD LENS!
So, how do we best learn from the past, to make better decisions for the future? Listening, voice and leadership! While recalibrating to a youth LENS. While weaving in the knowledge and history of our elders. If our youth are cared for as a ‘Whole Child’ they will provide the world a YOUTH LENS until they are elders.
We will be featuring the Museum of Us in the ‘Culture of Repair’ Series. Which used to be the Museum of Man and journey through their purpose LENS of decolonization.
When we understand indigenous reconciliation our LENS widens.
The power of these lenses is they help us address all situations, even youth suicide rate increases and the age of impact continually lowering.
Facebook for example, has proposals to build a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.
My first thought was, even as we help provide tools for youth leadership and voice, we cannot do it without including youth in the process. It is without question, if the youth were to assist Facebook in developing a social media tool for their own use, they would collectively innovate something more positively meaningful and intelligent versus ‘adult shortsighted lenses’ of dated social media platforms. It is without a doubt, by including youth voice, social media would be built with more sophisticated emotionally forward positive AI and algorithms. A tool us adults would then model after!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and when I think of the importance of youth mental health, voice and leadership is only possible if we are paying attention to the ‘whole gamut’ the ‘whole child.’ If you want to be inspired by youth global mental health and wellness efforts make sure listen to Prof. Dr. Knut Tielking in Episode 6, ‘Youth Indicators.’ Where we see youth mental health and wellness has no boundaries; culturally nor country.
Our second guest of ‘Culture of Repair’ is Clinton Shultz, a Gamilaroi man, descending from the people of Gunnedah/Manilla NSW, founder of Miramali Consult and Sobah.
I am always so inspired by every guest, thinking maybe we can ‘actually’ do this as adults! If we learn to shift our LENS.
I believe individuals, groups, and organizations can come out of life altering situations such as a pandemic stronger. Maybe more hopeful, especially if we consider the final UN Sustainable Development Goal 17 “Partnerships!” Please check out our ‘Youth Indicators’ student lead projects.
I am proposing the next step is ‘Partnerships with Elders & Youth.
Yes, the youth are resilient, but that is because they have the right algorithms and heart, combined with purer leadership and voice credentials, to help make sure we are on the right track. The right LENS.
That is what the ‘elders,’ as far and as wide as we can see, are hoping we break the cycle, which we know starts with the youth!
The LENS of ‘Youth Indicators’ is the belief, “the youth are true indicators of how we are doing as a society.”
At age 12, my grandfather had me start a happiness project. He was an educator, a high school principal, a lifelong learner, a historian, a writer, cultural globetrotter, world traveler, and realist of war, peace, love, and kindness. And one of the most influential individuals in my life and LENS, providing me tools to express my voice and leadership. He embodied ‘Youth Indicators.’
Because of an adult who understood youth voice and leadership, my LENS shifted and everything I work on is dedicated to him and that voice!