Thoughts on Leadership By an 18 Year Old: Taylor Putz

The famous quote by Gandhi, “Be the Change You Wish to see in the World” seems to be very popular among people who are attempting to make some positive change in our society today. Gandhi’s quote can be seen on email signatures, coffee mugs, magnets, posters, and on several more commercial items. I have to admit that his quote is painted in my room on the wall. However, to see the quote is one thing but when you see people especially teens who are as young as fourteen living Gandhi’s words, well that is extremely remarkable. As a co-facilitator for the Inner Wisconsin Teen Leadership Institute, I saw over the course of four days, teens transform into teen leaders who know who they are and feel like they can conquer the world through their passion, enthusiasm, and determination.

Over the past year, I have developed a strong sense of the concept of youth voice or including youth in the decision making process. Sometimes it’s difficult for adults to understand that youth have a voice too and that voice needs to be heard. Never in my life have I seen a group of youth take a hold of this concept and get excited about it as I did at the Inner Wisconsin Teen Leadership Institute. This was my favorite part of the camp. When a person would say, “Youth Voice!” everyone in response would cheer and clap. By the end of the camp, the teen leaders knew that they had a voice and it was important for them to go out into the community and let their voices be positively heard by everyone. In addition, the skills the teens learned at the camp are going to help them be successful in doing so. The teen leaders are the catalyst for change; together they can make a difference.

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