These local writers from the Cloverdale Library Teen Writing Group wrote in to inform us on the biggest issues facing teens in Surrey today. Want to weigh-in on local issues affecting youth, or Cloverdale residents on the whole? Write to our editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fund arts programs in Surrey Schools
by Heather Brand
It’s a common joke among high school theatre, music, dance and visual arts students that arts programs receive nearly no funding, and that fundraisers must be held to afford even the most basic of supplies.
This is usually caused by the fairly commonly held belief that arts courses are unnecessary or unimportant. However, this opinion could not be further from reality as arts programs offer numerous benefits to students.
Participation in arts programs can benefit students in not only more academic courses but also in jobs later in life. They accomplish this by encouraging the development of necessary life skills such as focus, discipline, dedication, teamwork, open-mindedness, and of course creativity. These are skills that are essential in many professions and yet aren’t necessarily taught or encouraged by courses that students are forced to take.
Moreover, arts programs allow students a vital opportunity to spend time with others who share their interests. Especially for students who have a difficult time interacting with others and making friends, the chance to spend time with those who share their passions is excellent for social and mental health. For many, friendships formed through arts program classes last longer and are more meaningful than friendships formed through academic courses, to the extent that many go so far as to refer to their fellow arts students as family.
It is clear that, despite what the majority of people believe, arts programs are essential to the development of important life and social skills in students. This renders the fact that they are consistently underfunded and dismissed by governments and schools extremely upsetting, and it is certainly something that needs to change immediately.
Before SkyTrain, we need to fix broken bus services in Cloverdale
by Jasmine Randhawa
People of all ages rely on transit as a primary source of transport, and yet transit bus services do not meet expectations of its users due to lack of efficiency and long wait times.
This is especially worrisome for teens, who are ineligible to drive and are dependent on bus services to get to school.
For example, Ecole Salish Secondary does not have proper bus service that goes northbound or southbound. This, added with the lack of sidewalks on one side of the road, results in an immense pedestrian rush after school, adding to the traffic. Furthermore, the unavailability of proper bus service that goes north and southbound compels teens to walk in harsh weather conditions.
This is nothing to say of the difficulties unpredictable transit timing has on adults commuting to work via bus services. Traffic, a shortage of bus drivers and a lack of bus routes all lead to this unpredictability. Despite the affordability (when considering the price of gas) and environmental benefits, it is still seen as more efficient to drive.
The proposed Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project will not be a catch-all for fixing existing transit issues in Cloverdale. I believe we should focus on increasing our bus services so that those who rely on the transit system to get to school, work, or around the city have a reliable and efficient option to do so.
Why volunteering is vital for the individual and the community
by Hazel McKinney
To volunteer is not only to expand and develop yourself but also your community. To help others without payment is a way to understand different point of views. It also helps build empathy and, depending on the type of volunteering, can lead to a passion or goal in life.
To do without this is not to be less than others, but to miss out on an experience that provides an advantage for the rest of your life.
| Volunteers help pack Christmas hampers at the Cloverdale Agriplex.
Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program / Facebook
Knowing how to talk, handle, and care for something without expecting anything in return is a type of kindness that must be learned through practice.
This benefits the community in several ways. Through service, a person becomes more rounded and gains knowledge, which will add to both their résumé and personality. This can lead to greater schooling and jobs, which can bring money to the area.
As wages are becoming more costly for the employer, volunteering can also provide a helping hand to those who may not be able to afford that much staff. Many food banks, respected organizations, are run by volunteers and would no doubt be much more expensive to maintain if not for the generosity of the workers. But because of them, the people who need food, get it.
If the volunteer opportunity is nature-oriented, then it helps to keep the neighborhood healthy and appealing. It also educates the workers on gardening and the impacts of climate change.
Volunteering is important for everyone, not just teenagers. It is emotionally and mentally awakening, developing a person into a knowledgeable human being. It advances our communities, our self-education of the world, and is a good way to build a sense of teamwork and group spirit.
We must address violence against children
by Christina Park
All around the world, violence occurs against children — whether it be exposure to war, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, bullying, cyberbullying, deprivation or neglect.
This violence strips children of their selfhood and hinders them from becoming who they really are. It is important that this issue is addressed because violence inflicted on children can carry into their adulthood, having far-reaching impact on future generations.
Violence is happening at a wide scale abroad, and it demands that action should take place. One of the largest issues is the number of refugee children. According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are 25.4 million refugees across the globe, and over half of that number are children and teens under the age of 18. They have been forced from home, by conflict or persecution, including from wars in Syria, Iraq and South Sudan.
Where will these children be fifty years from now? Will their dreams have been fulfilled, if violence did not kill them?
Violence against children is not a thing of yesterday or something far-off; it happens right here in Canada. Domestic abuse traumatizes youth, and carries a long-term impact. Children are also harassed by other children through physical, verbal and cyber-bullying.
This violence must be addressed now before it is taught to the next generation.
There are a number of practical ways to combat this violence. On a international level, countries should following the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — laws in countries should specifically state the right of every child to be protected against violence.
Locally, awareness should be raised in schools and homes, teaching children the negative impacts of abuse, assault and bullying, and teaching them to speak up if targeted. Abroad, in places where children have difficulty finding basic facilities, they must be reached either indirectly by funding or directly with on-site shelters and schools. Finally, it is children who can join in the movement of fighting violence that occurs against children.
Violence against children is an important topic to address because it ultimately deprives children of what every child should have: a childhood. It deprives them of their innocence, their brightness, and their dreams. Each child will grow up to be the artists, politicians, scientists, and technicians of tomorrow, and they must be protected so that they reach their dreams rather than becoming victims and perpetrators of ongoing violence and hurt.
We must take action now to end violence against children both at home and abroad, because each child is a valuable leader of tomorrow.
Community needs to rally, fundraise for pier rebuilding
By Danny Nguyen
Bring back the wonderful and old memories of 1914. It was a happy time, when the amazing and beautiful White Rock pier was built with funding support from the Canadian federal government.
The White Rock pier officially opened to the public on November 14, 1914. The pier provided many happy moments to people from all around the world.
After more than a century, on December 20, 2018, a severe windstorm created violent waves that caused several sailboats and ships to break free from the attached marina. They crashed into the pier and destroyed a 30-metre section. At least 15 boats sank and several were wedged underneath the pier’s pilings.
The broken White Rock pier impacts my daily life because many special events and moments in my family life were at the pier. All the happy times of being at the pier, all the memories, will never be forgotten. It is hard and sad for me and the community to see the pier destroyed.
It’s been six months and people want to fundraise to rebuild our damaged pier to make it as new. Government funding isn’t enough to rebuild the White Rock pier and the community can help so that the rebuilding effort is successful. Together we can provide the funding needed to build the best pier that will allow many people to enjoy it for a lifetime.
If you are reading this, please support fundraising efforts to rebuild the pier. I hope that the world will listen to the story, and feel the same way I do.
Fight climate change now
By Nora Trepanier
The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Let’s say we scale that down to 46 years. We’ve been here four hours; our industrial revolution began one minute ago and, in that time, we’ve destroyed more than 50 per cent of the world’s rainforests. If we put it like that, we can really see how fast we’re destroying our earth.
Most people know about climate change and how alarmingly fast everything is going, but they don’t do much about it. Maybe it’s because they don’t care, maybe it’s because they don’t know how fast it’s coming and how to help.
What can you do to help? Well first off, stop using plastic water bottles. It takes 17 million barrels of oil to manufacture all the bottles we use in a year. Buy reusable stainless steel ones. It’s only around $20 to 30 dollars and if you take care of it you can have one for a lifetime. Buy loose fruits and vegetables, do we really need them to be wrapped in plastic? Swap your everyday objects with bamboo or wood alternatives. Stop using plastic straws, plastic bags and plastic coffee cups! They all take in between 30 and 450 years to decompose. Eat less meat.
| Photo taken at a ‘Fridays for Future’ protest, part of a youth-led global climate strike.
Markus Spiske / Unplash
These are small actions you can do in your everyday life that will cost you almost nothing or even save you money. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or you’re an adult; no one is too small to make a difference. If you want to do more, come and protest — check out Fridays For Future or Sustainabiliteens. The next international protest will be on September 27.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 15-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg said, “Adults keep on saying, ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel everyday. And then I want you to act as if your house is on fire. Because it is.”
Climate change reality terrifying for younger generations
By Olivia Anders
Today I was thinking a lot about global warming and how, over the past few decades, rainforests, reefs, forests and mountains have gone from being practically bursting at the seams with vibrant, healthy flora and fauna to being ruthlessly stripped to the bone by climate change and humans.
There are an estimated 7.5 billion people and counting on the planet right now, and education on climate change is still scarce despite what you might believe. Every animal to be farmed, every child that’s brought into the world, every time you drive your car powered by gas, that leaves a mark.
If we continue to produce harmful gases like methane, we’re literally choking the earth. If life-giving, oxygen-producing microorganisms die out, nothing will ever live to open its eyes and see the world again.
This doesn’t even take into account the unknown amount of carbon dioxide pockets currently trapped under the rapidly melting polar caps.
The point is, older generations left the new ones to deal with this mess. I, along with everyone that calls themself a millennial or a Gen Z kid, will face unknown horrors in the coming years. Frankly, I’m scared.
Even though it may be expensive, what’s more important? A solar panel to produce endless energy or some oil that’ll be depleted incredibly fast? A washer and dryer or some soap and water and a clothesline? Take the easy-for-now path or work towards a better future for the good of all life on earth?