'Kids today' are doing great things

Three recent stories we’d like to draw to your attention have touched on some very different subjects — teen suicide, animal neglect and abuse, and the Caring for the Kenai competition — but each touches on a similar theme: young people in our community raising awareness to make their world a better place.

Today’s edition of the Clarion includes a story on a serious discussion of suicide from last week’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program. Teens from across Alaska and the Yukon Territory took an in-depth and emotional look at the issue, and talked about what they can do to help in their home communities. They hit on a number of ideas, including listening to their peers, reaching out and speaking up. They talked about the need to raise awareness of the issue.

Last Monday, we heard from Krystal Duran, a Kenai Central High School senior who is working to raise awareness of animal abuse and neglect issues. Her goal was to host a swing dance fundraiser to benefit Alaska’s Extended Life Animal Sanctuary in Nikiski. Her concerns grew out of a personal experience that drove the issue home for her. She told the Clarion that many people might think, “‘Oh, it doesn’t affect me directly, so I don’t care.’ But once you have that personal experience with it, it really opens up your eyes.”

And on Thursday, we learned about winning proposals from the Caring for the Kenai contest, which challenges high school students to come up with ideas that help better care for the environment, or better prepare the area for a natural disaster. This year’s competition attracted 400 entries from across the Kenai Peninsula, and the best projects had a community focus. Whether a smart phone app to enhance tsunami awareness in Homer, or a campaign to encourage safety around moose, the program continues to encourage students to become aware of issues facing their community, and to take it a step further by acting to address the issues.

We are glad to see so many youth positively engaged in their communities. All too often, we hear about “kids today,” and all the things we don’t think they’re doing right.

We all can follow the example set by these students, and look for things we can do, big and small, to make our communities even better.

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