Zara Ramtohul Akbur's entry to the Nutmeg Young Journalist Competition, sponsored by Hendon Rotary Club, impressed our panel of judges so much so, she was awarded first place. The question set was: How can the youth of today benefit from a united community and how can young people play a role in forming them? The announcement was made at the Nutmeg Awards Evening at Hendon town hall on December 10th. Read her entry below:
In today’s society the common misconception of a stereotypical youth is lazy, selfish and argumentative. It is hard to beat down our stereotype as we often feel so marginalised by society. The only option is to ‘rebel’ and therefore fit into these unfair stereotypes, but if we were given the chance and encouraged to play a part in our communities, this stigma could be eradicated.
Only yesterday I was on the bus having a quiet conversation with my friend when the woman in front of us turned around, looked us both directly in the eye, and said ‘Don’t you ever shut up?’ This is a clear example of how we are being treated by other members of society. As teenagers, we want to fit in (that’s all a ‘clique’ is really about) but with the stereotype weighing down upon us it seems awkward to try to become someone who society says we can’t be. This being said, there are initiatives such as The Duke of Edinburgh Award which encourages and supports us to build a stronger link to our communities, but if you don’t fancy a hike for two days in the Chiltern Hills, then this might not be the option for you.
Volunteering is a key way of bringing young people closer to their communities, giving them an opportunity to work with others. From my volunteering experience I learnt more about the people in our community, I listened to their stories and ultimately felt a part of something bigger, where I felt like I belonged.
In order for young people to be a stronger part of the community we must encourage volunteering amongst those in secondary school. This will result in young people being able to gain an insight into the way adults work and will help us develop and sustain important values such as respect and commitment. As a result we will have a greater understanding of those around us and this will undoubtedly help to establish a more powerful network, between young people and adults.
With the rates of employment decreasing so rapidly, there has never been a better time to promote volunteering among young people. Not only would we learn the ability to talk with adults formally and motivate ourselves to work, we would learn from the stories of other adults in the community which would ultimately make us more educated and well-informed. As part of a stronger community we would be more aware of our actions, leading to a more fulfilling society.
Every young person wants to belong to a community and the best way to initiate this, I think, is through volunteering. With this in mind teenagers will no longer be annoying, rude or ‘too loud’, but valued, and that is something only a united community can give.