Teens, adults over 65 partner for program

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Satchel Paige once famously asked, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”


Age was not an issue at Washington Health System Teen Outreach’s 21st youth conference, “Exploring Culture: Past (1964), Present (2014) and Future (2064)” where teens and older adults found plenty of common ground.


More than 100 teens representing all 14 school districts and the alternative school in Washington County met with older adult mentors to explore cultural changes in America over the past 50 years. The volunteer mentors – Park Burroughs, John Campbell, Dick Feldstein, Rachel Gladden, Tom Gladden, Rich Podgurski, Bill Price, Susan Price and John Tecklenberg – shared stories about their lives in 1964, while youths talked about their experiences today.


The program encouraged young people to show respect for older adults.


Campbell, who is a member of Washington School Board and active in NAACP, told teens about growing up in Washington in the 1960s, how he was arrested for running for student council president and that he did not attend classes with white children until eighth grade.


Former home economics teacher Susan Price, pointing out how many students were wearing shorts, described how one of her female students was suspended from school for wearing pants one day, and told them she could not apply for a credit card by herself because she needed the co-signature of a male.


Teenagers, in return, gave the mentors a crash course in today’s music, fashion and hot issues.


The teens and mentors also discussed ways to create a positive culture in 2064.


“This is a fantastic program,” said Campbell. “The kids are receptive and are willing to answer questions and share their perspectives. It’s a great bunch of kids.”


The conference, co-sponsored by Washington & Jefferson’s education department, was held at the Rossin Ballrom at W&J.


During the program, the winner of the Ambassador for Respect Older Adults Video Contest, Maya Wells, was awarded $500 for her interview of Campbell.


Said Mary Jo Podgurski, Teen Outreach director, “We want older adults to know they’re respected and visible to young people; we want young people to learn from older adults. Both older and younger people can grow from exposure to each other’s wisdom. Each person is a person of worth.”


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