Save the Planet in Simple Steps
By Mariah, age 15, Minnesota
Show your support to the world and use this page as a guide to help your achievements. With a little effort, you can help make this world a better place for everyone - fellow teens, average adults, cheery youth, and yourself.
1. Be yourself and don't worry about what other people think of you. Worry more about what you think of yourself, because that is what's most important.
2. Don't fall into peer pressure. You could save a life, as well as the lives of your friends, if you learn to just say "No". No matter how tempting someone may make alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, or another dangerous substance or situation sound, don't do it.
3. Stop gossip when it starts. If someone gossips about you or someone you know, ignore it. If you don't pay attention to the rumors and gossip, no one else will either. If someone tells you a rumor, keep it to yourself.
4. Don't pay any attention to how the media portrays teens. There is no definitive or perfect way to look, talk, act, or walk. The media is exploiting teens as they attempt to set high standards they believe teens should achieve. Help stop the media's portrayal of teens by ignoring what people look like on magazine covers, television, and in the movies. Be happy with who you are; you were made to be unique. If everyone talked, walked, looked, or acted the same, we would live in a dull, boring world. The catwalk can certainly get catty.
5. Don't harm living beings of any kind. By this, I mean do not bully, threaten, or use acts of violence against any living beings, which include humans, plants, and animals. We were all put here for a reason, and we all have the right to live in peace.
6. Eat healthy and exercise. According to a recent study by RSNA, only 0.5 to 3.7 percent of female Americans will suffer from anorexia during their lifetime. We need to stay healthy and active so that we can live better, healthier lives. Although there are some cases of anorexia, the greater plague in America is obesity. According to a recent study by American Sports Data, over 30% of Americans are obese, and 60% of all Americans are overweight. Obesity is starting to become a serious problem, as these rates have risen three-fold over the past 40 years. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, don't eat out too often, and try your best to eat healthy foods. Ask your local fitness center if they can start a special program for teens that involves fun activities so that more teens will be able to get fit and have fun. We need to help our fellow teens stay healthy and active so we can reduce these crazy numbers and live a life of longevity.
7. Volunteer. You can volunteer at homeless shelters, food banks, environmental organizations, wildlife preserves, state parks, Ronald McDonald houses, the Special Olympics, hospitals, schools, libraries, animal shelters, churches, the United Way, Salvation Army, Red Cross, food, toy, or clothing drives, or by creating websites for charities and nonprofit organizations. For more information on ways to volunteer, go to: http://www.bygpub.com/books/tg2rw/volunteer.htm or http://www.volunteermatch.org
8. Pay it forward. A small amount of kindness can pay off. You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar, so try being nice for a change to one of your enemies at school or in the workplace. They will surely be surprised, and most likely will return the favor. Do favors for people without them having to ask, whether it be your friends, family, relatives, teachers, etc. The next time you're in trouble, they will repay the kindness you showed them when they needed it most.
9. Be politically active. Even if you can't vote, politics is a serious matter. The next few years of your youth life will be greatly affected by which political candidates get elected in your region. Send letters to your governor, state representative, senator, or city official. Petition or protest certain laws that are being considered by Congress or your local government that you think will either benefit or hurt your country. Exercise your rights to ensure that your voice is heard.
10. Stay in school. Education is the most important part of your life. If you stay in school, you can get a good career and support your future family, or yourself as an individual.
Here are some facts* about our generation of teenagers, and why we need to act fast to help our peers:
♥ There are over 1 billion young people ages 15 to 25 today. Young people who are 24 years old and under make up almost 40% of our world population. Most youth (more than 60%) live in Asia and the Pacific.
♥ Some of the risks that today's teens face are lack of education, early pregnancies and marriages, and risks of HIV, AIDS, and other diseases. Together, we can increase the knowledge of today's teens, so that we can all understand the risks involved with our generation, as well as help encourage today's teens to live healthier lives.
♥ Youth in developing countries account for 85% of the world youth population. Almost half of those youth live in low income families. Only a fifth of that percentage of youth live in high or middle income families. About 240 million youth live on less than 1 dollar a day; 465 million live on less than 2 dollars a day.
♥ About 110 million youth are starving in countries classified as highly poor. 130 million youth are illiterate. 41% of unemployed people in the world are youth.
♥ One-third of those with HIV/AIDS are youth. About 2 million youth have HIV/AIDS. More than 7 million of those affected are young women. Over 6,000 people contract HIV/AIDS each day. Half of those who contact HIV/AIDS are youth. More than 75% of youth with HIV/AIDS are from sub-Saharan Africa. At least 15 million children under 15 have had AIDS. Youth with HIV/AIDS have trouble attending school because of discrimination at school and the care needed for their disease.
♥ Over 1.5 million people die annually, due to violence, including homicide and war. Violence is the leading cause of death in youth.
♥ There are more than 300,000 child soldiers around the world. Young girls are vulnerable to rape and forced into sex slavery. Between 700,000 and 2 million females were involved in sex trafficking; most were youth.
* Statistics are from Advocates for Youth.