Guest Post: YES WE CAN… Learn from Teenagers

By Tara Klein,  YES Group Advisor

You may not see them every week, but our teen group has been hard at work over the last few months, and it has really paid off. YES, which stands for Youth of Ethical Societies, presented the Sunday Meeting on March 4th with the title “YES We Can Be Equal.” With 11 teen speakers, a documentary film, multi-media presentations, topics including prisons, human trafficking, and privacy and free speech on the Internet; an ethical rap, and a teen musician; this was certainly an impressive Sunday Meeting.

Preparing their Presentations

The planning process began shortly after the New Year, when the teens brainstormed topics and ideas. They decided to continue with the theme from this year’s National YES Conference in Frost Valley of inherent human rights, with a starting-off point of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From there they came up with a list of about a dozen issue areas that related to human rights, then narrowed it down to three and broke into groups. We spent some time during meetings discussing each issue, and then the teens did independent research to get their final presentations together. When we finally pieced it all together we found that we had such a wealth of information, and each presentation was detailed, personal, and in-depth.

Filming at the Mall

On top of these pieces, the teens once again decided to create a short video documentary. They created a list of questions based on our topic, and traveled to Roosevelt Field mall one Sunday to film unsuspecting shoppers. Unfortunately the mall security wasn’t too pleased with us this year and wouldn’t let us film (or stand) in the mall. We ended up going outside, and afterwards had an in-depth analysis on the legality and morality of what had happened. Ethics are all around us! We also filmed some Society members.

setting up for the presentation

The content of the presentation can best be described in a transcription of the closing song, a rap written and performed by two of our teens, Reid Hetzel and Eric Morgenstern:

There are many things wrong
In this strange planet
Why don’t you pick up a paper
And read all about it,
read all about it, read all about it

This raps gon’ be tremendous
But the prisons are horrendous
People commit suicide
We know that’s bad, you and i,
So Say goodbye cuz people die
Now we see, eye to eye
Something’s gotta change
And its not out of our range

There are many things wrong
In this strange planet
Why don’t you pick up a paper
And read all about it
Read all about it, read all about it

now we go to trafficking,
Such a big issue, its gon’ make you cry
Take a tissue!
So many people gettin’ sold
So many kinds of every race, day to day, what to say, it ain’t ok,
OH!!!!!!!!!

There are many things wrong
In this strange planet
Why don’t you pick up a paper
And read all about it
Read all about it, read all about it

Lastly is the Internet
A pretty new issue
So many restrictions
That We don’t know what to do
Employers check our statuses
And schools can check our tweets,
Music oft’ gets pirated
Cuz people need their beats

There are many things wrong
In this strange planet
Why don’t you pick up a paper
And read all about it
Read all about it, read all about it

Yo
Ethical productionz in the house
We’ll be be back soon
Don’t miss us too much
Peace out, homies

As a graduate of the YES program, I can testify that what makes this group special is that it is designed to foster leadership and build skills by letting the teens guide the direction and activities of their own group. YES is different from school: the advisor doesn’t lecture, but rather provides guidance and advice, and lets the teens think and explore for themselves. (What 9th grade teacher would so eagerly support their students when they ask to do an in-depth project on human trafficking? I’m not sure but my instinct says not many.) The success of our Sunday Meeting is a testament to the success of that model. The teens are so excited to be a part of this group, and they will continue to feel connected to the Ethical movement as they grow up.

Interested in YES? Contact us at YES@ehsli.org.

YES Group after the presentation: Top row: Priya, Maggie, Tina, Sebastian, Amanda, MacKenzie, Ryan, Tara Klein (advisor), Bottom row: Dan, Reid, Eric, Chloe

Categories Director Blog | Tags: | Posted on March 8, 2012

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