Written by Kate Banville – Schools volunteer
So what do you think most teens would be doing on a sunny Saturday morning in early May after a hard week at school? Enjoying the kind of sleep only a young person can enjoy? Texting their mates to arrange to meet up at the local ‘place to be seen’?
Well as it turns out on the 2nd May hundreds of young people from across the Northampton Diocese, in preparation for their impending Confirmation, forwent these options for a day of reflection, evangelism and prayer, run by Northampton Youth Ministry Office. Clearly they had been coerced (read bribed) by their parents…or were they?
As a volunteer for CAFOD who had been invited in to lead workshops about Climate Change for two groups within this cohort, I was full of fear as I heard the titles of the other workshops announced. Drama, dance and art based on the gospels, British Sign Language and a topic linking the latest chart music to messages in the Scriptures…well it instantly made ‘One Climate, One World’ feel a little underwhelming. Was anyone going to turn up?
But they did! Not only did they come in number, but rather than being coerced, they insisted that they had chosen the topic in response to their own interest in climate change. After introducing the groups to young people worldwide who had suffered the effects of climate change, they asked hard-hitting and direct questions they would ask if they were in the shoes of these children. ‘Why don’t you think about us at all?’ ‘Why do you act so irresponsibly?’ ‘Why don’t you care about us?’ ‘Why do you use energy like it’s worth nothing?’
As it turns out, I learnt more about adults than young children during the course of this event. Why do we so often write off young children? What makes us think that teenagers don’t care? I will never again disregard young people’s ability and willingness to embrace social justice. Nothing compares to the energy, compassion and straight-talking, uncomplicated view of the world of young people who are thirsting for justice.