COLUMN: There’s cause for hope in Generation Z

Today’s teenagers ‘think and act like Baby Boomers’

By 2050, plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish.

This latest prediction comes from a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

What a depressing thought.

And last week, representatives of 132 governments around the world released a United Nations report that predicts more doom and gloom:

Man is destroying nature and this accelerating deterioration may portend the end of humanity.

What a downer.

According to a recent newspaper column written by Dan Kraus, a senior conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the aforementioned report, which is called The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, “has grave implications for human life.”

The need to act is overwhelming in its scope and urgency, he warns.

If I wasn’t already depressed, I am now.

With a federal election looming, all parties are assuring us they are concerned about climate change.

In Canada, we only have to look at the endless floods and forest fires to know something isn’t right.

In some respects, I am glad I am old and have lived out most of my life without having to worry about our demise.

But I feel for our children and our grandkids.

What kind of world are we leaving behind for them?

Now I am truly despondent.

Disheartened notwithstanding, I recently dragged my sorry self to Semiahmoo high school to volunteer as a mock interviewer for students in Grade 10 preparing to apply for a part-time job in the real world.

What an uplifting experience!

These teens, mostly aged 15, are poised, polite, articulate and prepared. They are mature beyond their years.

They are on the honour roll, play sports as well as a musical instrument, and still have time to volunteer. Some already have part-time jobs.

They have lofty plans for the future and want to make a positive impact on the world.

I couldn’t help but think of myself at their age. I remember dumbing myself down as it wasn’t cool to be smart. I remember wearing the shortest mini skirts in the school and wondering where I was going to go on my Friday-night date.

Oh yeah, and I was thinking that maybe I should apply for a job!

Boy, have times changed.

According to Melody Ross, the careers teacher at Semiahmoo who co-ordinates these mock interviews, the students today have a more scheduled life and extra-curricular commitments.

“They are not tainted by adult cynicism,” she adds, and “are eager and enthusiastic to take on the world. They give me hope.”

These Gen Z teens, born between 1996 and the mid-2000s, are full of optimism.

And part of their educational core curriculum includes social responsibility; namely, contributing to community and caring for the environment; solving problems in peaceful ways; valuing diversity and building relationships.

According to Jason Dorsey, president of Centre for Generational Kinetics, this emerging generation thinks and acts more like Baby Boomers than millennials.

The poor millennials are getting a bad rap as half of them still live in their parents’ basement.

Generation Z is shaping up to be a true “throwback generation,” already working, saving money and determined not to end up like millennials. Seventy-seven per cent of Gen Z currently earn their own spending money.

And just like our Baby Boomer generation, they want to change the world and make it a better place to live.

I am hopeful they will do a better job than we have done.

The oceans and the fish will thank them.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’

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