Let me tell you about the teenagers I work with.
They are resourceful. One of them can’t afford Photoshop, so he uses the free trial until it expires, creates a new email address, and signs up again.
They know death well. Almost every time I log onto our work Facebook account, one of them has a “RIP” status for a friend, nephew, aunt, grandpa. Violence, sickness, and accidents are common.
They utilize public transportation like no one else. Some of them ride it for almost an hour just to come and work on their art for three and a half hours.
They know how to dream far better than I. When I do goal-setting sessions with them, they tell me about their dreams of being a pediatrician, reality TV editor, poet, comic book artist, or crime detective.
They advocate for themselves. One of the teens didn’t feel he was getting a good education at his school, so he enrolled in another and gets up at 5 am just to get there.
They are wise beyond their years. One of them recently explained to me that he no longer idolizes anything, because he has learned that talent, money, relationships, and more can be taken away in a second.
They work hard to make money off of their passion. Several of them have found ways to sell their art — in mall food courts, at school, and through online sites.
They step up to help when needed. Almost all of them care of their younger siblings while their parents work.
I have formed such a deep respect for these teenagers.