We got into a long, and at moments heated, conversation about change. Our youth were questioning whether it was possible to change. There was a worry that if they were to change and community members remained the same, they would be in danger. Youth weren’t expecting to live past the age of 25, so why go through the trouble of changing.

This is a common experience. For us it is an issue of hope. That for some of our youth they have not created an image of a positive future for themselves. They are not sure of how they can change, how others could help, or how to leverage their passions to find success.

We began to reframe the conversation. We simply asked, “What if you lived longer?”

Some of our youth never thought of this before. We began to think through people in their life that they want to be like who are older than what they expect to live to. They gave names of brothers, uncles and even their Mom. The next step was to think of one thing they could do to be more like that person. Our youth began to answer with graduate from high school, start a business and needing to be kinder.

We began working on goals around their answers and seeing how reaching that goal might be a positive thing for them. A difficult conversation was shifted to one that help our youth see hope.

What if we realized that a major aspect of the work we all do with youth was simply to give them hope. How would that change your conversations, your interactions with youth and how you support their families?

Give them hope.

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