Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Reflections on 50 years

“Dad (Youth Forum Founder, Hank Greenspun) would not be surprised that the Sun Youth Forum still brings out the best and brightest,” said Brian Greenspun, Las Vegas Sun editor.

On the anniversary of its 50th year, the Sun Youth Forum will welcome 1,000 students from 41 schools to the Las Vegas Convention Center so that they may share their thoughts and insights on numerous relevant topics with Southern Nevada’s civic and political leaders.

Founded to teach young people to respect the opinions of others and to discuss them in a civil and respectful fashion, the Sun Youth Forum has a duel responsibility — educate community leaders and strengthen families by providing an environment that creates mutual respect,” Brian Greenspun said. “Fifty years ago, families sat down to dinner together, parents and children, in theory, communicated. Too often today, family members simply do not have the time to spend together and parents are unaware of what their children are thinking. It is our hope that the Youth Forum will help parents understand their children’s concerns and beliefs.”

“Our teens have a lot to say and they need to be encouraged by parents and other adults,” added Greenspun. “They are cogent, persuasive and intelligent individuals who will be tomorrow’s leaders.”

During the first Forum, one of the main concerns among students was that there was no place for young adults under 21 to go on weekends for recreation. The community, specifically the sheriff, listened and acted. The Wildcat Lair was the result of that first Youth Forum as the adults who were concerned about curfew violations and too many teenagers on what was then a growing Strip, paid attention and acted on what they heard.

“Today the issues are more sophisticated. Teens are discussing topics that affect not only their generation, but also generations to come. And make no mistake, they are expressing well thought out, knowledgeable opinions, not simply mocking their parents’ views,” Greenspun said. “We must do a better job of hearing what they are saying. On a personal note, as the program coordinators, it it is our responsibility to remain vigilant about encouraging our community leaders to listen to and respect the opinions of the youth.”

“After 50 years, you have to admire the simplicity of the Sun Youth Forum. ‘Listen to youth, for theirs is a wisdom untainted by cynicism, unbounded by pessimism and full of bright hope for the future.’ It’s in that simplicity that the Forum has found strength and longevity. We look forward to another 50 years,” Greenspun concluded.

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