Archive for Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Time to give teens a break

April 2, 2008

Those who worry about leaving our world in the hands of "the younger generation" should find solace in a story in last week's Chieftain and Sentinel.

It told of how teens and young adults from the area decided to use their spring breaks to participate in a number of charitable and social endeavors.

For example, one group of 32 area residents - a mix of teens and adults - traveled during their spring break to South Africa to assist with the Oceans of Mercy group.

Oceans of Mercy was founded by Shawnee resident Schaun Colin, a native South African, and seeks to help children affected by the HIV/AIDS virus in South Africa through a children's village and other orphanages. Oceans of Mercy believes increasing knowledge of HIV/AIDS can help prevent the spread of disease.

In South Africa, the group spent time doing home improvement projects at an orphanage, worked in three soup kitchens and broke up into smaller groups to visit the homes of people living with HIV/AIDS.

The trip wasn't void of entertainment for the youths; they visited a game preserve and went jumping off the highest bungee point in the world.

A group of Kansas University students spent time at sites working across the country in Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington, D.C. At KU, students pay $250 for travel expenses, and they attend a Special Projects in the Community Course before their trip to earn one course credit.

Co-director Ashley Bloom, a Hutchinson senior, said she talked to one student who volunteered for the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, D.C.

"She said her experience was life-changing," Bloom said.

The students' alternative spring breaks came at a time when many of their fellow students were hitting the beaches in Florida or South Texas or engaging in some other form of March madness. We don't begrudge those youngsters.

But the story shows some of our young folks can be serious about their time off, too, which merits us giving the young a break.

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