Years ago, I stumbled across Pass the Torch and was immediately impressed with its author’s high regard for young people; it didn’t take reading many posts to realize Kelly Curtis seeks and sees the best in students of all ages.  Soon, Kelly and I exchanged comments and emails, and I’m thankful to say over time we’ve become friends.  Hopefully one day that will culminate in a face-to-face meeting, but until then I applaud all she’s doing to advance the status and esteem of youth today.

Founder of Empowering Youth, Inc., Kelly is a busy lady–a wife and mom, she returned to her position as a school counselor part-time last year in the midst of writing her first book, "Empowering Youth ~ How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things".   I was thrilled when she asked me if I’d like to read and review it–with two teens and a tween of my own, I have a vested interest in the subject matter.

This book is proof positive that dynamite comes in small packages; weighing in at less than 150 pages, it’s a resource every educator and youth worker should arm themselves with.  Why would I make such a strong assertion? 

  • The pages are filled with testimonial words from both student and adults, real life examples of how youth make a difference in their communities, our country, and even the world!
  • Rather than plodding through tired rhetoric, Kelly provides activity suggestions that bridge students and adults, and challenge both to a) view each other differently, b) find a way to work alongside each other, and c) challenge participants to dialogue with one another, plan well, and then ACT!  Activities include "reflection questions" as a measure of self-evaluation.
  • Under the tutelage of Search Institute (a Minnesota-based youth development researh organization), Kelly champions the use of Developmental Assets–"qualities, opportunities, and conditions that characterize the lives of healthy, happy and resilient young people".  Detailed explanation is provided for these 40 assets which fall under eight general categories (Support, Empowerment, Boundaries and Expectations, Constructive Use of Time, Commitment to Learning Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity).

Her message is of hope and high expectation; re-orienting our (adult) thinking to see students as current contributors to our community and world; cultivating an atmosphere that allows youth to thrive and have opportunity to lead today.  When Kelly made the simplistic statement "Youth learn leadership by being leaders" it’s a reminder an environment has to be created where that’s possible. 

Reading this on the heels of completing "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris, my perspective has broadened on what and how my own kids and their peers can do to make our world better.  As I train and challenge them to be "world changers" (whether on a local or global scale), the future is altered for all of us–for good!

Imagine the possibilities…!

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