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Gen Z: We're looked down on by older generations and not given the chance to show who we are'

We want to challenge this misconception and change the world for good, writes Keely Jenkinson.

Keely Jenkinson Secondary school pupil

AS MEMBERS OF Generation Z much of our waking lives are influenced by the media. Being a 16-year-old growing up in the society we live in today has its challenges.

There is a lot of pressure put on teenagers for many reasons. We need to keep up to date with the latest fashion trends, keep up with technology and be able to fit in with the crowd, which is constantly changing.

The internet has taken over a lot of society as it is a means of communication among people my age and social skills are being lost due to this.

One week something is in, the next it’s not

We feel the pressure to have the newest clothes and technology to keep up with our peers. Most of our generation will wear clothes once or twice and throw them away. One week something is in, the next week it’s not.

Buying cheap items on the high street and not thinking about where they’re sourced from or what hands helped make them. We’ll buy the newest item again and repeat the process.

Young people today are pressured into buying the latest trends and have to deal with social pressures never coped with before, like social media. If we don’t pay attention to these things, people look at us differently.

We feel ignored

Often, we feel ignored because we have no life experience but actually we have a lot to contribute. The world is constantly changing and we’re all changing with it. We want to be listened to and be taken seriously.

Being a part of Generation Z gives people a narrow view of people our age. We are often looked down upon by older generations because we are not given the chance to show who we really are.

Being part of the Young Social Innovators programme helps us to challenge this misconception and allows our voices to be heard gives us a platform to speak out about our creative ideas to change the world for good.

Paying attention to the environment

As part of our YSI project we encouraged our fellow students and local community to pay more attention to the environment as a whole. We up-cycled frames, candles, bottles, ornaments and many other household items that would have eventually ended up in landfill.

Restaurant chain McDonald’s agreed to let people donate their loyalty coffee stickers and we collected over 100 cups of coffee which were in-turn donated to the homeless in our community. From the donated goods given, we made food packs and sanitary packs which we helped distribute to people sleeping rough through our collaboration with Inner City Helping Homeless on Amiens Street, Dublin.

We hope that our project will encourage other members of Generation Z to think about the environment and about how we can reuse, reduce and recycle, not just to help the planet, but our fellow man.

We’ve done a lot of work but we know this is just the beginning. Our team is currently hard at work up-cycling a room from all recycled items including making furniture from used pallets and household items. Our aim is use this as a living example of the power of up-cycling and promote it during #YSIweek, the weeklong celebration of youth-led social innovation.

It’s a movement

The impact of the voice of our team from Donahies Community School has already made a significant wave in our community. Our fight to help solve the homeless crisis in our town isn’t over yet.

This is not a moment, it’s a movement and the fight will continue. We plan to lead the charge and continue to grow awareness of this issue, one up-cycled item at a time.

Keely Jenkinson is 16 and attends Donahies Community School. Donahies Community School recently showcased their project on the YSI Speak Out Tour, which is currently travelling 2,000 kilometres around the country to hear 7,000 teenagers speak out about issues they are concerned about and innovations they are undertaking to address them. Find out more at youngsocialinnovators.ie.

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About the author:

Keely Jenkinson  / Secondary school pupil

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