Purpose & Hope in Young People

When the statistics are so overwhelming, the scale of the problem so vast, and the stakes so high for nature and the environment, how can purpose bring hope to a young person, so they believe they can have an impact? – Sandy, Author and Businesswoman, Melbourne

Sandy, your question is so huge, yet so powerful. Thank you.

Recently I attended the launch of the movie Regenerating Australia in Melbourne. The core message was that we can all make change happen starting in our very own backyards and communities.

Many of us, young and old alike, feel helpless about the state of the world and our climate-crisis. We feel powerless and therefore retreat into apathy and inaction. Each of us has the power within us however, to turn our helplessness into hopefulness. We do this through action and activism.

But where to start? Floods. Bushfires. Plastic pollution. Reef destruction. Coal-fired energy. Political corruption. Over-fishing. Soil degradation. The list of environmental causes we might devote our attention to is endless. Perhaps we become apathetic because we don’t know where to start?

Adults have an important role to play in helping young people find hope and purpose. Firstly, we must be a living, breathing example of action at work in our own community. It must be a case of ‘show not tell’.

Secondly, we must become a quiet guide or elder for our young people. They need us to hold the space for their grief and rage, to ask good questions and help them identify an impact project where they might apply their unique talents and skills. This could be a project already underway in the community or a new one that might engage their peers, teachers and whole school.

A great example of purpose in action is the story of Molly Steer, who at aged nine launched #StrawNoMore after watching the movie A Plastic Ocean and seeing a Sea Turtle having a straw extracted from its nostril. (Watch here but be warned!)

No matter the scale of our global problem, there is always something you can do in your own backyard to make a difference. It may be as simple as taking a garbage bag with you to collect rubbish as you walk and encouraging other kids in your street to join in. It might be about signing your school up to #StrawNoMore and becoming a #StrawBassador with Molly. Or it might be about leading the charge to screen Regenerating Australia at your school or in your community.

There is always something we can do. And it is in the doing that we find hope.

With love and purpose

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PPS: I’m currently taking bookings for keynote speaking on The Power of Purpose and my Talk on Purpose course. If you’re intrigued book a chat.