Vail Daily column: Student finds hope in her generation | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Student finds hope in her generation

Zeiri Cortes

What misconceptions do adults have about youth these days? When you ask Zeiri Cortes, a senior at Vail Christian High School, she'll tell you most adults think "all youth are lazy." Zeiri mentions that although a majority of youth are on their phones, it doesn't mean they are all less active or not doing as much as adults did when they were young people. She also believes adults have a misconception that youth today are less able to achieve the things that they were, or are naive on certain topics, especially politics. Zeiri says her classes involve politics and they review headlines often, and "youth these days" are passionate, involved individuals. According to the most recent Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 86 percent of seventh- through 12th-grade youth in Eagle County report there are a lot of chances to be part of class discussions, and 73 percent participated in extracurricular activities in the past 12 months. So the next time we say "those kids" or see a young person texting, we shouldn't automatically assume the next generation is hopeless.

Accomplished Student

Zeiri is a high achieving, caring, family-oriented and responsible youth. She has applied to six colleges and has been accepted to six. She has been a part of drama, band, choir, dance team and SOS Outreach. She can lose herself in a book, loves to snowboard, longboard, hike, backpack, camp and draw. There's no lack of things for Zeiri to do and she puts her best foot forward in all of them. Her dance team has won the state championship five times in a row. According to Zeiri, one of the greatest parts of our community is that there are a lot of programs for youth to be a part of; it's just finding the right one. This is a very active community and that extends to youth as well, she said.

Benefit of SOS Outreach

Youth who grow up in caring neighborhoods and who receive support from three or more non-parent adults have two more developmental assets that help them grow up to be healthy, caring and responsible adults.

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When asked what her favorite part of being in SOS has been, her response was "watching kids grow and succeed doing what they enjoy and contributing back to what was once a part of their own leadership development." Her personal leadership style is to be a leader and a follower at the same time in order to have everyone on the same level and contributing. Zeiri comments that SOS shaped her into the person she is now and the core values taught in the program gave her a strong foundation that directs all the decisions she makes. She has never taken the easy route and instead always looks to challenge herself to achieve more. Zeiri's utmost core values are humility and honesty, values she plans to continue to teach youth in the future.

Zeiri finds hope in her generation and in the advancements that new technologies, especially in science and health, will bring during her lifetime. She believes technology will not only be a source of communication but will help develop and grow knowledge for the betterment of the world. It can be a tool to reach other parts of the world and impart new ways of solving problems.

When asked what words of wisdom she has for the community, Zeiri paraphrased a quote from the movie "Boyhood," and in her words said, "Sometimes you don't seize the moment, sometimes the moment seizes you." To her, this means that sometimes we get caught up in what we're doing until the moment seizes us, makes us stop and think that this is a moment to remember. The next moment any of us have with a young person, please be sure to seize it and remember it, not only for your sake but for theirs. Youth who grow up in caring neighborhoods and who receive support from three or more non-parent adults have two more developmental assets that help them grow up to be healthy, caring and responsible adults. It's time to break down our perceptions and stereotypes and became a part of positively supporting the youth in our community. When you're in the local coffee shop or lift line, instead of overlooking or complaining about all the young people, take a moment to say "hi" to them and show them that the community cares about them.

Mikayla Curtis is the manager of strategic impact at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative youth prevention programs and services. In addition to supporting the health and well-being of local young people, ERYC offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.