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Kids These Days: Here's some advice for teens, from teens

Kids These Days students
Katie Raymond, Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
A lot has happened since we started making this podcast nearly a year ago. So we’re asking: what have we learned? And what advice can we give to ourselves..and each other...as we navigate all of it. ";

A lot has happened since the teens at Community High School started working this podcast nearly a year ago.

We’re eight months into the COVID outbreak. Three months since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd.

Black Lives Matter protests ignited a reckoning on race for seemingly every institution in this country.

Plus there’s a presidential election coming up in November. And for many of them, it’s the first election they can legally vote.

Now that we’ve reached the end of the show, they’re asking: what have they learned? And what advice can they give to themselves – and each other – as they navigate all of it?

Sophomore Grace Wang’s advice is about getting back to the basics – with a needle, and thread.

“My parents got me a sewing machine for my birthday during quarantine,” she said. “And I honestly love taking time to make something just for me.”

So far she said she’s made one shirt, one “two-piece sweater set thing,” one skirt, and next, she’s going to try to make some pants.

“I’ve wanted to make my own clothes since I was seven, but I never really did it though because I didn’t feel like I had enough time and I was usually more focused on what other people wanted or were doing,” she said.

sophomore grace wang
Credit Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Sophomore Grace Wang

Then...COVID hit. And Grace says everything she thought was important didn’t seem as important anymore.

“I realized that I hadn’t been paying as much attention to a lot of things that I wish I did notice. Like how, even in the ‘bubble’ of Ann Arbor, the issues of race and inequity are still super present in our everyday lives,” she said. “The reality of America and the history that it was built on is not what you learn in school. It’s not an option to ignore systemic issues.”

Grace said this realization prompted her to sign up to campaign for a local politician who she thinks can make a difference.

She also said she's stopped worrying about what other people think, and spending all her time making everyone else happy. Instead, she is finding little things to do that make her feel happy and normal.

“I try to be kind to myself as much as I can. I know that everyone says things like that, and I used to hear that and roll my eyes because it sounds so simple and cheesy,” she said. “But one day I was so fed up with being sad about how I looked, and how I felt... that I just decided to take the stupid advice.”

In addition to being kind to herself, Grace said it also helps to set a schedule. She works out every morning, makes cute breakfasts, sets aside time for homework, watches a lot of TV – and of course, she sews.

“That's really the extent of my plans for the future because I have no idea what might happen next,” she said. “Even in the most unpredictable time I’ve found ways to stitch my life together in a way that makes everything feel a little more normal.”

From never underestimating the power of a good night sleep, to learning to say ‘no,’ and staying true to yourself, these Community High School teens have a lot of great advice.

You can hear more in episode 9 of Kids These Days on Apple Podcasts or wherever you like to listen.

Support for Michigan Radio's Kids These Days comes from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and The Children's Foundation.

Want to make sure Michigan Radio continues creating projects like Kids These Days? Donate $20 today right here.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Public. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.