Teen heroes amaze, delight and kindle hope

Love 15: Coco Gauff beat Venus Williams, Alex Mann wowed Glastonbury, Greta Thunberg stood up to oil barons.

Do teenagers deserve more respect? The news is suddenly full of amazing young people, whose energy and idealism is taking the world by storm. So, how come adolescence has such a bad name?

A dazzling, new clutch of teenagers has burst upon a cynical world and cheered up a weary public. They have exhibited hard work, confidence, modesty and a powerful touch of genius.

Today, many papers pay tribute to the 15-year-old US tennis player, Coco Gauff, whose amazing run at Wimbledon came to an end when she was defeated by former world number one Simona Halep, 12 years her senior.

The American prodigy earned her place in the tournament as a wild card, setting the record as the youngest ever player to enter the main draw. Ranked 313th in the world, she saw off her idol, Venus Williams, on the competition’s first day.

This weekend, climate activist Greta Thunberg (still aged only 16) was back in the news, facing up to powerful oil industry chiefs who branded her climate change campaign the “greatest threat” to their profits.

On a lighter note, only a week ago, 15-year-old Alex Mann wowed Glastonbury with his star turn when he was plucked from the crowds by rapper Dave.

Teen sheen?

Don’t worry, the gloss will soon wear off this story, say the sceptics. Here you are talking about people who are one in 10 million, the total exception to the rule. And the rule is that most teenagers are doomed to suffer the “awkward age” or adolescence, neither child nor adult, touchy, emotional, full of angst and self-importance.

Such unfair, negative stereotyping can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, argues Margaret Rooke, author of a recent book about teenagers. Teenagers don’t have to be famous to be amazing. They are not yet world-weary or jaded by constant rejection. If they have a vision for the change they want to see, they are well-placed to articulate it. We should listen.

You Decide

  1. Is it great to be a teenager?


  1. Who is a teenager you admire or regard as a role model? List three reasons why.

Some People Say...

“Society has the teenagers it deserves.”

JB Priestley, English novelist (1894-1984)

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Young people have had a bad press. They stand accused of being prickly, over-sensitive snowflakes. It has been said that they are surly, reluctant to get up in the mornings and are obviously not as well-educated as their saintly, hard-pressed parents.
What do we not know?
How to account for Coco Gauff. The teenage tennis star has brought this year’s Wimbledon tournament to life. She has not only won against the odds and accepted defeat generously, but she also shows maturity and grace off the court (unlike a certain adult player: yes, Nick Kyrgios).

Word Watch

David Orobosa Omoregie, known as Dave, is an English rapper, singer, songwriter, pianist and record producer.

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