How do most people see today’s youth? Device-loving, smart-mouthed and tuned-out are adjectives often used to describe the typical images presented in the media. The words lazy and entitled may even spring to mind. It does not have to be that way. We can change the terms and perception of teenagers today. It is our youth that come up with some of the latest innovations that revolutionize technologies and address today’s challenges. We can look to a recent article in Inc., How to Take Advantage of the Coming Explosion of Teen Entrepreneurs, to show us how to support innovative thinking and identify teens like Nick D’Aloisio that are ready to develop into tomorrow’s thinkers and entrepreneurs. It is time to enable young people to do more for themselves, their communities and the world at large with Junior Achievement.
What is Junior Achievement All About?
Junior Achievement wants to enable our youth to succeed in our current global, hyper-connected and ever-changing economy. It is our mission to prepare today’s youth for the economic challenges of tomorrow. A Junior Achievement volunteer said, “Junior Achievement helped students understand the world of work, what will be expected of them, and the preparation needed to achieve their goals.” We bring a real world perspective into classrooms and show that young people have a role to play. Students may have ideas of what they can do but Junior Achievement volunteers use their experience and understanding of the world to show them how to take it further, empowering them to test and expand on their concepts and build their confidence in themselves. Junior Achievement offers programs from kindergarten through high school that foster financial literacy skills, work readiness and entrepreneurship in our youth. We can collectively support and challenge our youth to meet the future head on. Every country will need more workers, but even more so, they will need creative thinkers that can tackle the problems that we cannot anticipate now. A new way of doing things is required to turn our youth into productive members of our future’s society. This is where Junior Achievement steps in.
Volunteers and mentors impact the daily lives of children in our Junior Achievement programs. Junior Achievement has reached over 4.6 million U.S. students in over 201,000 classrooms from 2014-2015 alone. Simply being present and offering a hand to a young person can change the course of their lives. Mentors create significant bonds with our youth and offer another perspective on the world around them. These connections impact more than any one individual. The Junior Achievement influence changes mindsets of our youth and our volunteers. Where students once believed they can’t, they can now confidently believe that they can. A Junior Achievement Students shared, “This has been the time of my life. I look forward to volunteering for JA in the future.” See what our Junior Achievement volunteers and young people have to say about the experience today.
Can Our Youth Make a Difference?
Yes. They can. Teenagers are making a difference right now on the world around them. Examples include:
- Malala Yousafzai, born and shot in Pakistan, has fought for the rights of all children to an education. She has drawn world-wide attention for her activism and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at 17.
- Nick D’Aloisio, who taught himself how to run a business from the internet, created and sold his company, Summly, for $30 million at only 17.
- Mattie Stepanek, his life shortened by muscular dystrophy, wrote 5 volumes of poetry that profoundly touch the hearts of minds of readers and even found himself drawing celebrity attention from his first televised interview onward.
Other teens, such as Jack Andraka, who created a promising test for pancreatic cancer, and Thomas Suarez, a 12-year-old app developer, show the amazing aptitude that children have to work with the technologies of today in novel ways.
Junior Achievement uses third-part evaluators to review the success of our programs. Junior Achievement has been shown to have made a positive impact in a variety of critical areas. Read the summaries of the findings on www.ja.org.
It is time to start recognizing the potential of our youth and offer our experience and care to some of those that need it the most. The change that a single person can make on another’s life can astound. Make an impact today.
How Can You Get Involved Today?
Junior Achievement welcomes the gift of your time or your donation to continue our successful outreach program. Our volunteers are business people, parents, college students and retirees. Volunteers make up the lifeblood of our organization. Your contribution today can change the lives of children and their communities. Donate directly to Junior Achievement here and find out more about our volunteer opportunities in your area and how to get started here today.