The Push

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“We can't do this. You can’t do that.” As young people, we are so often told what we cannot do that when someone finally says, “Hey you can do this. I believe in you,” it can come as a shock. Often we don't know what we are capable of. And sometimes it just takes a push from the right person.  

Stephanie, a program participant at GreenRoots in Chelsea, Mass., talks about at a time when she was pushed.  

We heard lots of stories about youth leaders accepting a push in the follow opportunities:

  • Public speaking. A common experience for many young organizers, but a nerve wracking one. This is usually far out of many comfort zones, but is a real confidence booster.

  • Meeting with public officials. When a young person realizes that sharing their experiences and insight can influence policy change, it’s powerful.

  • Traveling. Whether it’s heading to the state capitol, attending a conference, or hiking up a mountain, travel widens our understanding of the world.

Derek, Oasis Center: Mayor’s Youth Council member in Nashville, Tenn., shares about his mentor’s encouragement and exposure to new experiences.

That’s one of the critical things… introducing young people to different people and to different places.
— Sharlen, Co-Founder Urban Underground in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Exposing young people to opportunities is a part of leadership development. But exposure can also be really uncomfortable. It’s in those moments of discomfort when we truly emerge as effective leaders. Then we are unstoppable.

by Becca Folkes-Lallo