Last month, I asked Marlowe (my 11-year old) to write another post for me. She’s written here before, on everything from the importance of being yourself to summer planning. This time, I told her that Women’s History Month was coming up so I wanted to showcase a young woman’s voice. And I casually added, “maybe talk something about how powerful young people are, and how they are underestimated.”
This was “before.” This was back when the coronavirus was that thing we were vaguely aware of, that thing happening “over there,” and “to them.”
I’ve been listening, like you, to all the voices. The doctor voices and the news voices and the neighbor voices. And through all the many voices, there is one thing that is absolutely certain: in these uncertain times, we are unsettled.
My children are two of the “young ones,” the ones that aren’t expected to be “as affected.” But I think my children– 8 and 11– will be affected, deeply, whether this virus hits our family’s health and security squarely in the face or whether it graces us with only a soft pass.
Because this moment in the span of time of our children’s lives will undoubtedly be a part of what shapes the way they view, and interact with, the world. And I think they will forever be different, in ways big and small, in ways both perceptible and imperceptible.
And that, like children themselves, should not be underestimated.
So to that end, I thought today was a perfect day to share the words of Marlowe, my fearless girl. Here, unedited and untouched, is her commentary on the Power Of Children:
Greta Thunberg is a 17 year old girl who is an environmental activist on climate change. Hailey Fort is a 9 year old who is building homeless shelters. Will Lourcey is a 7 year old who created the organization, FROGs, which has given over 175,000 meals to homeless people. These are only three of many examples of children, most of which are very young, that are changing the world!
I believe that children have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to creating change. Since children are young, adults don’t think that what we say is actually that important. But the kids above are making changes because they were given a chance. Chances are what cause change. That could be good. That could be bad. But with a little help, that could be extraordinary.
I think that kids can be better at public speaking because kids care less about what people think. If they have the passion, they can go up there and own it. Kids have a bigger impact on adults because they’re kids so when they speak like adults or speak powerfully, it seems more powerful because it was done by a kid. So, if kids speak more, or you give them the chance to speak, people could be more impacted by what they say.
Children have more of an imagination than adults because as you grow up you may learn things that take some of that imagination away. Being able to have that much imagination while speaking about an important topic can make stuff so much more magical and so much more powerful that people will be inspired by it more, be impacted by it more, and be intrigued by it more. That pretty much is the goal of speaking for change. Having people be impacted, inspired, and intrigued.
Remember the word I repeated earlier? Chance? We are going to dig deeper into that word. The dictionary definition of chance is: a possibility of something happening. If you give children a chance there’s a bigger possibility of something great happening because there are more people in on it – a mix of all ages.
So as I finish up writing this I want to say one more time, give kids a chance, for you’ll never know what change will come.
How can you give your children a chance to lend their voices today?
For breakfast, Marlowe and Erika enjoyed their favorite hot morning beverages (apple cider for Marlowe and coffee for Erika) and a fried egg.
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on The Leadership Program’s Wings & Whimsy Blog, and has been reposted with permission from the authors.
Authors: @erikap and Marlowe Petrelli
Marlowe Petrelli is eleven years old and a 6th grader at Westfield Intermediate School in Westfield, Indiana, and she has been passionate about leadership from a very young age. Since the age of 7, she has run a multi-day summer camp at her home for her younger brother and his friends. The camp, which she has named “Camp Courageous,” is a full-day camp that she schedules out by the minute, and includes registration and safety forms for the parents and camp counselors that she “hires” from among her friends. As a member of the “staff,” her mom Erika can tell you that this camp rivals the best camps in town. One three year old boy in the neighborhood, upon hearing the news that he and his family were moving to a new house nearby, had only this to say: “But, will I still be able to go to Marlowe Camp?” In 2015, Marlowe re-scripted, choreographed, staged, and starred in a home-production of Peter Pan, when she was just six years old, with a cast of more than eleven friends and neighbors. She has written several blogs on youth leadership and girl empowerment, and regularly leads warm-up games and activities for the staff of The Leadership Program. She also co-delivered a high school commencement speech with her mom for the graduating seniors at Richard R Green High School in New York City in 2019. Marlowe regularly volunteers at her church, helping take care of the 1-2 year olds. She enjoys singing, basketball, and fashion.