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Teens Do Listen

Rebecca Kearns – Community Outreach

Teens? Right? Whoever thinks they actually get through to them? Being eyeball deep in raising my own three teenage sons, I am convinced my words are Teflon – they just don’t stick. New Hartford Junior High hosts an annual “Horizons Day Program,” inviting the best local talent to come and speak about their jobs to these kids. I am sure the organizers and speakers hoped their words stick.

I have to tell you the guest list read like a sold out conference of cooking, TV personalities, lawyers, medical professionals and more that we adults gladly pay a price to attend. And somehow I was also on this list of speakers; invited to speak about the Boilermaker and Yoga.

I didn’t want to speak “at” the kids, they have plenty of people who speak at them. I wanted to engage them! Teens are still living in their bodies, unlike adults who tend to have a disconnection to their physical body. What better way to connect, then to get them to use those bodies through Yoga? I weaved my story of my passion for Yoga I found at 17, with a string of interesting jobs, degree programs that all ultimately led me here to the Boilermaker. I spoke to the importance of finding a buildable skill in every job they have even if the job seems meaningless. For example one summer, I worked as a tour boat guide on the St. Lawrence River. Skill? Public speaking of course. (And how to tie-up a boat. Definitely critical.) Talking while moving them through various poses, pausing to interject my words of wisdom.

Some of the words were simply to feel present in this moment, don’t worry about later, or tomorrow. I told them to not get caught up in what they want to be when they grow up because quite frankly at 42, I still don’t know what I want to be. (At this point I was convinced some parent would bust in and express disapproval of that but alas, no one did.) We talked about how life is a journey and an open mind would serve them well.

Apparently my words were not Teflon. Much to my surprise I received a good number of thank you letters from some of the 60 or so kids I interacted with that day. Words like confidence, hope, relaxed, inspired, and calm, emerged as a common theme.

During this time of year we could all use a little head and body space to breath and move. These teens taught me that we can all inspire and all learn how to chill out.

Meredith summed it up best I think. She wrote “by participating in your class I am encouraged to stay calm in stressful situations. By learning to take a deep breath, I am encouraged to be less stressed. I really enjoyed the very last activity (savasana) after stretching. I felt so tranquil after. Thank you very much for making us laugh and smile.”

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