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young people

Throughout human history, older people always complain that the younger generation lacks the common sense and life skills they learned growing up. Then, when the younger generation gets older they judge the one that came after them.

It's a dance that's been happening for centuries. However, this time the old folks may be right.

Studies show that younger Americans are incredibly tech-savvy and great at academics but aren't quite up to snuff when it comes to basic life skills. Studies show they are much more likely to order take out than to cook for themselves.


They also don't know how to check their tire pressure, sew, make basic home repairs or drive a manual transmission.

So they're stuck having to pay people to perform basic tasks that they should have learned at some point in their first twenty-some-odd years on Earth.

Parenting coach Oona Hanson and her husband Paul, have decided to reverse this trend in their family by sending their two children, daughter, Gwendolyn, 17, and son, Harris, 12, to Camp Common Sense.

Due to social distancing, the camp has two campers, two counselors and takes place in the Hanson's home.

The camp has eight themed weeks that include kitchen confidence, anti-racism, DIY, laundry and cleaning, safety and emergency preparedness, personal finance, city savvy, and social skills.

Oona says she teaches the topics to her kids through a mixture of "direct instruction, independent research, and hands-on practice." They also watch movies that support to the themes to further drive home the message.

The family uses Catherine Newman's book "How to Be a Person: 65 Hugely Useful, Super-Important Skills to Learn Before You've Grown Up" as a basic camp manual.

via Debbie Fong / Twitter

"I chose to use this book as a guideline because it's written and illustrated with charm and joy and infused with humor and empathy," Oona told Today. "It's not an adult talking down to kids; it's an adult inviting kids into the world and explaining how you function in daily life."

The Hansons saw quarantine as the perfect time to teach their kids the skills they always planned to "someday."

"It always seems like we're going to get around to teaching them these things 'someday,'" she said. "There's that fantasy that before they go to college, they're going to learn these thousand skills that actually take time to learn and practice. Right now, we have the time it never seems we have to do it."

Camp days aren't all work and no play though. The kids still get time for physical activity, arts and crafts, and a little screen time.

The Hansons hope the lessons they teach now will pay dividends over the long haul.

"I'm OK if the kids are rolling their eyes at us now if later they can look back and say, 'I'm so glad I know how to make pancakes for 12 people.' That will bring so much joy and connection," Oona said.

We all know that millennials are entitlement-oozing, spoiled, special snowflakes, who need to grow up, get over themselves, and get a damn job.

[rebelmouse-image 19533104 dam="1" original_size="700x364" caption="And need to cool it with those damn selfie sticks. Photo by Marco Verch/Flickr." expand=1]And need to cool it with those damn selfie sticks. Photo by Marco Verch/Flickr.

But ... science just won't stop telling us we're wrong about that.

A new study, which will be published in the journal "Psychological Science," found that even after all those participation trophies, helicopter parents, selfies, Insta-pics, and snappy chats, young people these days are ... basically no more self-absorbed than young people 30 years ago.


Or, most likely, young people 30 years before that, according to the study's authors.

The researchers surveyed the scores of tens of thousands of college students who took the Narcissism Personality Inventory test between 2000 and 2017. The average student scored between 15 and 16 on the 40-point scale, a slight decrease from their peers in the 1990s.

"There never was a narcissism epidemic, despite what has been claimed," lead researcher Brent Roberts, psychology professor at the University of Illinois, said in a news release.

Recent research has increasingly found that elevated self-regard is simply a developmental hallmark of adolescence.

"We have faulty memories, so we don’t remember that we were rather self-centered when we were that age," Roberts explained.

A 2013 study found that a common teenage brain process that increased self-centeredness also boosts information retention, allowing young people to learn faster and hold on to memories better than adults.

While we were busy self-esteem-shaming them in the pages of magazines, millennials were getting up to some pretty selfless stuff.

[rebelmouse-image 19533105 dam="1" original_size="700x479" caption="Photo by The All-Nite Images/Flickr." expand=1]Photo by The All-Nite Images/Flickr.

The Millennial Impact Report, published in 2015, found that 70% of that generation volunteer, and more than 80% report giving to charity.

Some of them are criss-crossing the United States trying to make it easier for people to vote.

Others are breaking new ground in infectious disease research and bringing award-winning science and medicine to rural regions of the world.

Still others are campaigning for racial justice and attempting to build a more equal, less violent society.

If that's where being lazy, entitled, and self-absorbed leads, perhaps other generations should follow. Getting a selfie stick would be a good start.

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A South L.A. school is paving the way for more green spaces in underserved communities.

This L.A. school garden isn't just growing fresh fruits and veggies — they're also growing the leaders of tomorrow.

True
Dignity Health 2017

In South Los Angeles, there is a 1.5-acre lot filled with bountiful garden beds growing everything from collard greens to kumquats.

On a crisp day in sunny L.A., students from all walks of life are tending to the fresh fruits and colorful veggies. Some are watering newly planted seedlings, while others are gathering jalapeños and kale for the freshest taco ever.

All images via GAP, used with permission.


This lot, called the Fremont Wellness Center and Community Garden, is located at the John C. Fremont High School campus, and it also has a small park, a community health clinic, and a soon-to-be-finished 1,500-square-foot greenhouse.

"It’s a big thriving community" says Megan Laird, the garden and youth program manager. And with so many opportunities all in one space, it's easy to see why.

One reason this green space is flourishing is because of the Gardening Apprenticeship Program, or GAP for short.

"It’s a program where high school youth from the John C. Fremont High School campus can come and participate in a course that trains [them] to become leaders in health, urban agriculture, and civic engagement," says Laird.

Through a 10-week program in the spring and the fall, the students learn about local and industrial food systems, how food justice affects communities, and how they can turn this knowledge into action within the larger community. And, of course, they learn basic gardening skills and environmental science.

"By the end of the 10 weeks, we feel confident that the youth are familiar with not just how the fruits and vegetables are grown on the site, but what they can do with them moving forward," adds Laird.

The project was started by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT), a nonprofit with a mission to promote safer and stronger communities by creating more urban parks and community gardens — something severely lacking in L.A.'s underserved neighborhoods.

The best part? The students are applying the lessons in their own lives.

"The biggest lesson that I have learned during my time in this program has been becoming a leader," writes Elizabeth Castro, a GAP student staff leader, in an email. "I am not as shy as I was before and it has helped me prioritize my education and future."

Other students say that being in the garden has helped them get through tough times in their lives, allowing them to open up about their battles with stress and depression. Some have also spearheaded efforts to partner with the environmental club on campus to collect food scraps for composting and waste reduction. No matter the hurdle, they overcome it as a unit.

"What I love most about working in the garden is that I can work with friends and know that the work we do can be shared with the community," writes Kevin Nagrete, a GAP apprentice leader, in an email.

More than just having loads of fun, the students are also helping expand the program.

GAP regularly invites professional chefs to demo how to use the produce in the garden to make healthy delicious dishes at home. In fact, GAP has seen so much success with their nutrition programs that they're now also partnering with the UC Cooperative Extension to create a new culinary after-school course.

These developments are particularly important given that it can be difficult to access fresh foods in certain areas of L.A. In South L.A., 72% of the restaurants are fast-food establishments. Plus, 90% of the food retailers are small stores that often don't provide healthy alternatives. And if they do, they usually lack the quality and freshness that you'd find in more affluent neighborhoods.

Thankfully, GAP's seed of change is well on its way to growing more green spaces (and even more leaders).

A 2006 UCLA study found that Los Angeles was well behind other major west coast cities in terms of park space. Even worse, a 2016 report done by the LANLT found that less than 30% of the total L.A. population — the majority of which are from low-income communities — have access to parks in their area.

That's why a group of GAP leaders are branching out and becoming involved in a separate program by the LANLT — the Park Equity Leadership Academy. Through this program, the students join other L.A. communities in advocating for more green spaces all around the city.

It's the next big step in their growth as leaders and one that'll pave the way for a brighter and greener future.

If you want to help out their cause, you can do so right here and follow all their progress on Instagram.

True
Dignity Health 2017

Carl Lakari's teen years were consumed by drugs and alcohol.

Stuck in a rut and unable to engage with the world around him, Lakari had no creative outlets, no guidance, and no idea what to do. "What I didn’t get in high school was the support of caring adults and peers to help me find what my passion and gift is in the world," he remembers. He felt helpless and alone, so he turned to drugs and alcohol in search of solace.

Many young people all across the United States battle these same feelings and problems, so Lakari — now in long-term recovery — decided to help them.


He started Project Aware, a youth empowerment program that allows young people to express the tough issues they're dealing with through filmmaking.

Lakari (left) coordinates a production meeting with 2016 Summer Film Institute students. All images via Project Aware, used with permission.

The Maine-based program started in 2003 with cofounder Katey Branch. "We really wanted youth to have a choice or opportunity that I felt like I didn’t at that age," says Lakari.

The students cover a wide spectrum of themes in the films they work on — from bullying to self-harm to underage drinking to suicide. The projects are collaborative, and each student takes on the role they're drawn to the most. Some want to act, some want to direct, and some just want to be extras. But no matter what role they choose, they're all able to tackle important issues they care about in a creative and impactful way.

On set with the student crew and cast in Saco, Maine.

"Adolescents have an immense amount of energy and creativity they need to express," writes cofounder Branch. "It is a part of evolution for teenagers to push the edges. That is where innovation and new ideas emerge. When youth are given healthy channels and support, amazing things happen. When they are left out of healthy opportunities, that energy can get lost in sad, often tragic directions."

Cast members Tyler King and Emily Tierney in the film "April's Heart."

Project Aware is fostering a new generation of artists focused on telling powerful stories and creating meaningful change.

To date, the project has produced 12 short films and more than 20 public service announcements and has garnered hundreds of thousands of online views. By providing a healthy channel for creative expression, Project Aware is reimagining how young people can make their voices heard and inspire others to take action.

Students filming a documentary on racism at the University of New England over the summer.

"A lot of these young people don’t have a voice now," Lakari says. "Many of them may be struggling, labeled in some way. And this is sometimes their very first opportunity to get engaged and involved in leading and having a voice about a particular issue they’re concerned about. They get really excited about that."

The best part? They're sending an important message to other young people: You are not alone.

If all goes according to plan, Lakari hopes to see programs like his all across the country. "A program like Project Aware offers young people the opportunity to get connected with other young people that often share their story or part of their story," he says.

The cast and crew of "Reaching Out," a suicide prevention film to be released in 2017.

Faith-Ann Bishop, a 20-year-old film student in Los Angeles who wrote/cowrote four movies for Project Aware and was featured on the cover of Time magazine, sums it up beautifully in an email.

"It is our job to use our voices to help others find shelter in their thoughts," she writes. "Just one speech, one moment with someone can educate them, and reduce the stigma about mental disorders, suicide, drug use, or unhealthy relationships."

Hannah King in a scene from "A Better Place," which was written and directed by Faith-Ann Bishop.

"Trust yourself and your ability," she continues. "Never let others tell you your art or ideas are not worthy. Your voice is so beautifully unique and it will free you to use it."