Giving The Floor To Teenagers

Giving the floor...photo

I’ve had the privilege to interact with a lot of teenagers, mostly to listen. What struck me most was that too many of them lack self-confidence and feel awkward, even though every single one has a special, unique talent.

I started Give Us The Floor to help create a society in which every teenager understands that they are extraordinary and unique and can advocate for themselves. It is a space to value teens in the face of the personal pressures and global challenges that surround them.

To achieve this we must allow teens to originate their own decisions and solutions. To give them control.

Give Us The Floor

  • offers a unique place where youth help each other work out their shared concerns and experiences.
  • is a community of young people deeply connected by their challenges.
  • is a safe, supportive and progressive place to figure out what matters most.
  • guides parents toward a more nurturing and supportive role.

In the process of setting up Give Us The Floor, I’ve met and talked with young people who have struggled – or are still struggling – with what we might call minor issues. (Though when you deal with the issue, it is never minor.) I’ve also met with young people who have fought – or are still fighting – major challenges.

I have come to understand that they are the ones who know best how to describe what they’ve felt and are still feeling. They are the ones who have directly experienced the emotions.

For us, adults, in order to understand, we must first learn to listen.

Listen to them.

Without preconceptions or prejudice. Just listen to them. Hear them. And then ask yourselves what we could do better now. Don’t ask yourselves what you have done wrong. What is done is done. (Though asking forgiveness of your teens for your mistakes – mostly due to ignorance – is always a good way to start a deep and connected discussion.) Look ahead, not behind. Open the future for your teens and yourselves. Together. You supporting them.

Some have great writing talent. The natural conclusion was to offer them space on my blog to tell their stories about fighting their challenges so we, parents, educators, can learn from what they have to say.

Tomorrow, you will read the first one. Written by Robyn, a 17 year-old girl recently recovered from a life threatening challenge. Robyn is mature, and hers is an incredible journey. It will be posted in three parts published one week apart, the way it happened: from the beginning, in the midst of the nightmare, and into recovery.

You are encouraged to ask her questions, and even more, to urge your teens to connect with Robyn if they feel an affinity. Believe me, teenagers being able to share your feelings and challenges with a peer who’s experienced the same ones is a giant step towards healing.

I want to finish by giving a huge warm thanks to Robyn, who courageously accepted my offer to open up and share her story on this blog. Because she knows that sharing is the key to recovery.

Robyn confessed that she spent a lot of time looking for something like Give Us The Floor, a place where she could get in touch with people her own age and share her experiences and feelings without adults looking over her shoulder. She couldn’t find any. For her, for many other young people, and for many experts, Give Us The Floor is vital.

To learn more you can find us at giveusthefloor.org

If you’d like to contribute your time, knowledge, or money, we thank you, please reach out by e-mailing me at valerie@giveusthefloor.org

Thank you.

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