Are you age 20 to 29 and live in our readership area? This column is for you. Do you have a son or daughter or grandchild in this demographic? Please get them to read this column.
I want to remind our readers that in past articles I have extolled the virtues of close families and connecting cross-generationally. Without concern of undervaluing the other types of relationships in our society, this has lain a clear foundation to write this opinion piece upon.
Do you feel isolated. Have your friends moved to cities like Oshawa, Whitby, Toronto, or even outside of the province or country? Do you often look around and feel as though you're surrounded by seniors or small children? Whether it's another turkey supper, euchre game, or pickle ball tournament, do you feel like local events don't have your age in mind?
Did you feel that Scugog was out of touch with your needs, as residents spoke out against the township's internet initiative; an initiative that not only would make your life easier but provide local jobs?
In regards to young adults, our communities are in a crisis. I'm not talking about teenagers with their high school friends and events, or those teens with cashier and stock room jobs all around town. I'm talking about those in college, fresh out of college and those that age struggling to make a life in a community that seems to have forgotten them.
Take a walk around town if you don't believe me, there seems to be a demographic black hole between the end of high school and the 30-somethings starting young families. Where are the 20-somethings?
According to statistics Canada, there are 2140 young adults ages 20 to 29, in Scugog alone, 2325 in Uxbridge, and 7360 in Kawartha Lakes. Looking at just Scugog and Uxbridge, there are apparently 4465 young adults here. Where are you gathering and in what ways do you gather besides partying? There must be other ways or groups that get together in healthy emotional ways to find common interests.
My co-worker Dan and I, both feel this same frustration and confusion over the issue. It's difficult to meet people our age here. And it's baffling when you look at the numbers, and think about how few of these people we see.
We know we're not alone. Not simply in terms of numbers, but in thought process. Night after night I see young adults frequenting Tim Hortons for hours, with nothing else to do. Is this the only existence we're offering young adults in our communities? There has to be better or additional options than staying up until 2 a.m. at Timmies, or meeting people at bars. I'm not meaning to offend anyone, but I don't drink, and I'm not interested in a bar culture. If you, like me and my colleague Dan, think there must be a better way for the young adults in our community to live, then read on.
This discussion has been going on silently in the heads of many like minded young adults across our communities. These are people hoping for some healthy social interaction, who don't even realize that two doors down, or across the street, there's another discouraged young adult who feels isolated, and also has great ideas of how to make our community better.
While I don't know the solution yet for all of us, I know we exist. It's time to come out of the woodwork and stop the internal dialogue of discouragement, and to come together for meaningful discussions and sharing of ideas, so we can help our community be a place we can enjoy living in. As much as moving away may sound easier and appealing, it's not the solution, the numbers don't lie, we're here, so why don't we make this place a home we enjoy too?
As an excellent example, Dan brought up local artist Jasmine Rutschmann. As a young metal work artist, she was rejected by an art group because of her age. Consequently, she decided to make a space for young artists and created the local “Golden Gallery”. Jasmine is an example of doing something about her situation, rather than lamenting the lack of pre-existing opportunities. Let's not lament our lack of social, economic, etc, opportunities, let's make some!
In response to this line of thinking, we at the Standard designed a survey, found at https://www.thestandardnewspaper.ca/young-adults.html, which responsible young adults, ages 20 to 29, who are abstainers (no drinking or drugs), can complete. This survey is about what type of group you would like to see developed in our reading area, for 20 to 29 year olds. This survey will tally up votes for general categories of interest among this population.
Divided by region and interest and including an email address from each participant, it will be used to inform people of their peer interest group events, with a view in mind, if none exist, they could establish a place to gather and host their given social interaction group. Any relationships developing out of these groups would be solely at the discretion of those in the group. The Standard would simply be functioning as an initial collector of information and would impart it to those interested in hosting a group or event. We would in no way be responsible for any misbehaviour stemming from the interaction of individuals in any group.
But still, this could be a great opportunity for those who would embrace it in a dignified manner. Good futures could even come out of this. Again as I wrote earlier, let's not lament our lack of social, economic, etc, opportunities, let's make some!
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