April 15, 2021: The Power of Youth

By Stefanie Vestal, Vestry Member

I’m sure many of you remember listening in awe when Amanda Gorman took the stage at this year’s Inaugural Ceremony. I was left speechless--but not shocked--by her ability and performance. I was impressed by her poise, confidence, and words. However, I work with students every day and know the power of youth - for good and otherwise. As a middle school teacher, I see students who at times struggle to find themselves and find a place where they fit in the world. This can be hard, and it at times manifests in unproductive ways. I know how frustrating young adults can be when their energy is not channeled in positive ways. However, I choose to see the other side - as often as I can. I know that activities, the arts, sports, etc. are amazing outlets for students and help young adults find their footing in life. They can allow students, like many of mine, to overcome obstacles, to take a break from their responsibilities and burdens at home.  

I am the advisor for the LGBTQ+, and the Interact Club (a community service club sponsored by the local Rotary Club). This year we have been meeting virtually, but that doesn’t mean it has had any less of an impact on students - or me for that matter. Yes, it is one more hour, three days a week of staring at a computer screen - oftentimes at boxes with a logo because students are too shy to have their camera on; however, this time matters for students.

At our LGBTQ+ Club, some students are out only to our club, other students share their concerns about unsupportive parents and look for advice. We made huge gains this year by creating a gender neutral bathroom at our school and meeting with members of the Fairfax County School Board about our concerns in Family Life Education. We also created virtual lessons for staff and students about LGTBQ+ awareness and personal pronouns.

Our Interact Club has not lost a step; we recorded ourselves reading stories to be shared with elementary schools, sent letters to troops and first responders, and recently completed a project making 25 care packages for homeless shelters - a project for which they wrote and received grant money from our local PTA.

As Christians we are called to help others. A big part of our mission at All Souls is to serve others. Over the past few months our Outreach committee has done some amazing work, and I look forward to their continued growth and success. I encourage you to reach out to them if you have a desire and some energy to share.

Next week is Global Youth Service Day. Due to COVID, it, like many things, will look very different from years past. However, on the weekend of April 23-25 people ages 5-25 will be participating in youth service and civic action all over the world. Now I, like many of you, do not fall into that age range, but it does not mean that I cannot celebrate the power of youth, and contribute to service. You can engage yourself, young people in your life, or be an adult champion to serve, advocate, join, celebrate, or build. For more information or to get involved CLICK HERE (leadasap.ysa.org). 


Last Published: April 16, 2021 7:41 AM
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