To be young (and loved) is beautiful

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If your kids and grandkids are healthy, happy, productive and responsible, count your blessings.

Your kids and grandkids are not like so many of the other children and grandchildren in our community.

A lot of kids today feel worthless. They’re in a perpetual state of comparing themselves to others who are pretending to be better looking, smarter and cooler than just about everybody else. You can thank social media for that weapon of mass destruction. But there’s more.

Many of these kids, because of broken homes, irresponsible adults or a litany of other tragic realities no fault of the children, are deprived of something every child should experience: Fun. Good, clean, wholesome, laugh-your-butt-off fun.

Lucky for all of us, there’s an organization here that focuses primarily on high school-aged kids who so often are overlooked — because too often, they’re invisible. Young Life, led by Molly Starch, is making a difference and could have an even bigger and better impact if given the chance.

Young Life is a Christian organization. However, with Molly and others like her leading the way, no child is unwelcome. That includes those of other faiths and those with no faith. “We’ll just love them that much more,” Molly says.

Young Life has for several years been making a difference in our communities, yet it remains largely unknown to many who would benefit most from what it has to offer. Last summer, Press religion correspondent Bob Shillingstad wrote about Molly and Young Life, and just last week The Press published a story about an event Young Life was hosting. But now is the time to spread the word further. Much, much further if you care about these kids.

Young Life does neat things like hand out hot chocolate and pizza in area high schools. But they also have regular gatherings and events that are substantive and, for those so inclined, spiritual. Students who participate rave about the transformation that takes place not just when they’re acknowledged, but when they feel the warmth of genuine, nonjudgmental compassion. Mix in plenty of fun and you have a recipe for happiness.

Parents and grandparents, we might have trouble understanding the challenges of younger generations, but talk to adults who work with them regularly. Whether or not we understand or sympathize with peer pressure brought on by epidemic levels of social media immersion and other challenges, we cannot refute the elevated levels of self-harm and suicide that shadow them. If organizations like Young Life can help — and they absolutely do — more power to them.

•••

Young Life: northidaho.younglife.org

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