Yesterday my family & I went downtown to hang out and encourage homeless teens with http://www.standupforkids.com/. Our job as volunteers was to play games with the teens, organize donations, set a positive family example, and listen to them if they wanted to talk.
We started out there organizing hygiene-bag donations between boys and girls. Then it got interesting. We were asked to add condoms and lubricants to each bag since they just had 3000 donated. (My 12 year old twin boys were not involved with this activity. They were playing Foosball with other teens - thus, we avoided a detailed explanation regarding lubes & flavors... ack!) Distressingly, 2 out of the 3 girls present at the shelter were already pregnant. However, this did not stop them from digging into the donated box of multi-colored, multi-textured, multi-flavored condoms with glee. I didn't see a lot of interest from the boys though... Come on Boys, "no glove - no love!"
After loading up the prophylactics & lubes we mingled with the kids. Most were eating lunch. Some were texting on their cell phones (yes - they had them! huh?) and others were hovering around a laptop one of the volunteers brought for their use. I sat at the laptop table & painted "Liz's" toenails. She is engaged to "Raven" who was also at the shelter. He looked over the age-limit of 21 but they were probably a package deal. Although I asked no questions she poured out her story to me over orange-toenail-polishing. And when the computer was free, she showed me pictures of her 17 month old daughter on her Yearbook and MySpace pages. Then she fed her Vampire (a MySpace app), updated her status, and answered a few emails as did EVERY OTHER TEEN in the shelter.
This blew my mind!
These kids have no home. They have been in and out of jail. Some are pregnant with no hope for the future. They don't know where their next meal will come from - but they are plugged into the social networks and texting on their cell phones.
I guess teens will be teens regardless of circumstances.
The big question is: What do their status updates say?