There are over 20 million teens in the United States. Globally, the United Nations estimated that in 2003 the number of young people aged between 10 and 19 reached 1.2 billion, or nearly a fifth of the total world population. That's a lot of teen power and potential.
Over the past 18 months, my partner, Dr. Kathy Cramer, and I have been working with educators, psychologists, advocates, and teens to develop our next book, Change The Way You See Everything - TEEN Edition. Our goal was to create something that will be a powerful tool and an innovative resource to help youth discover and appreciate their many assets and believe in themselves.
In the process, Kathy and I have been forever changed. Teens inspired and educated us as much, if not more, than we influenced them. Now we see teens in a new light, as much more than our future; they are a very powerful part of our present. Real, ready, willing, and able to think, feel, and act big.
The Good Teen
The conventional wisdom of developmental psychology generally views teens through the lens of risk factors and preventing and remedying the very real threats and dangers that teens face. While this approach is important, it’s only part of the picture.
In groundbreaking research, Dr. Richard Lerner, of Tufts University, found that with the right guidance teenage years can be healthy, positive, and productive. This positive vision is eloquently brought to life in Dr. Lerner's book, The Good Teen. We wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Lerner that teens can realize and make the most of the promise and potential that is uniquely theirs, by seeing themselves through the lens of upside factors and assets that are both inside and around them.
Teen-Age is the new Change-Age
Conventional wisdom also has us believe that being a leader, making a difference, and creating change requires the wisdom of years, the passage of time, and life stage experiences. Not necessarily.
Today’s teens and youth are ready, right now, to be positive change agents and unleash their potential to step into important roles of leadership and step out into their world as never before. Kathy and I are passionate advocates for their power, promise, and potential to change their world and ours.
It Does Take A Village
We have also come away with a renewed and profound respect for the ever-growing network of individuals, organizations, educators, and teachers who are doing their best to encourage, help, and support teens in so many ways, big and small, like O Ambassadors.There is no doubt that Oprah Winfrey has had a huge impact on millions of people worldwide. She’s donated her time, money, and passion to help those in need.