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Growing a New Generation of Spiritual Activists

by Celia AlarioOctober 21, 2014
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If you are new to Spirituality & Health Magazine, welcome! And if, like me, you come here often, my hunch is that you’ve come to appreciate the wealth of wisdom, inspiration, authenticity and transformational resources available to you via these pages. As adults we have access to a number of communities that can nurture our spiritual inquiries. In this way, we grown-ups are blessed.

Now imagine for a moment, that you experienced this caliber of online spiritual community as a child, tween or teenager. Imagine you had access to a place where kids from all different backgrounds and spiritual traditions gathered to dialogue about questions of meaning in an open and inclusive way. How might your life have been different if, as a young adult, you were introduced to spiritual elders like Rabbi Rami Sharpiro, Caroline Myss, Lynn Twist and Elizabeth Debold, addressing themes that mattered to you? I’ve been pondering this daily since a friend introduced me to KidSpirit Online, a youth-led, youth curated online magazine and community, celebrating nearly 10 years of publication.

The brainchild of Founding Editor and Publisher Elizabeth Dabney Hochman, KidSpirit Online pairs the powerful writings of some of the same luminaries we read here at S&H alongside the writing, art, photography, poetry and media reviews of a diverse, international group of young people, ages 11-17, all striving to go deeper and access their inner wisdom. The Editorial team (all youth) decides on themes and develops for four issues a year, with in-depth explorations into topics like:  Ethics and Morality, Spirituality and Materialism, Time, Heroes, Creativity, and Gender, just to name a few.

I agree with Hochman, who believes that KidSpirit is especially important at this moment in time, when young people need tools to meet the unique challenges they face as the next generation of Spiritual Activists. She finds inspiration in these young people, who are exploring life’s big questions, even finding an appreciation for the questioning itself. These kids are cultivating a respect for, and interest in, one another, and a comfort with the complexities of life that we adults could stand a good dose of!

“These young people can be tremendously open,” says Hochman. “With very little encouragement they quickly become engaged and want very much to share what is best about them with the world… and what comes out is a very open-hearted, compassionate, thoughtful and wise perspective.”

In terms of global citizenship, peacemaking and the future of the world, Hochman says KidSpirit has a major role to play.

“If youth don’t have a vehicle and an outlet to think deeply about central life’s questions, especially in community with each other and especially across potential differences and divides, than they are not going to develop the skills to be global citizens,” she cautions.

And it’s not just the KidSpirit content that is fostering the next generation of Spiritual Activists. Hochman’s editorial process, by design, encourages authenticity, builds self-awareness and self-confidence, and yields high quality results. The youth-led editorial teams are mixed ages, mixed spiritual and religious backgrounds, coming from different schools and very different environments. 50 editors from around the world gather in seven small, independent teams to edit submissions, all committed to reading and treasuring one another’s work. The average contributor reworks their submission three times before it goes live, guided by, as Hochman puts it, “…all these unseen voices and hands that have read this material and have savored it, commented on it, discussed it, soaked it in. So there is a communal and community aspect to these pieces, even though they’ve come from one voice in one particular situation.”

And so ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, experience KidSpirit for yourself and share it with a young person in your life.  Here’s how:

  • Surf the Web: Find it online at http://kidspiritonline.com
  • Buy the Books:  Three ‘Best of’ volumes have been published so far, and are available here. The first volume of the Best of KidSpirit Online was a Wilbur Award winner for youth books.
  • Join the Party:  If you find yourself in New York City, attend KidSpirit's Annual Awards Celebration on Sunday, November 9, 2014 from 4:00-7:30 at NYU's Tishman Auditorium and Greenberg Lounge. Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post, will be the guest of honor.

 

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