There is no shortage of nor end to the challenging issues faced by today’s teens. For this generation, it often seems that as soon as one problem gets solved, five more are jumping up to take its place.
Of course, going through the teenage years has never been easy. But with each successive generation it becomes more difficult.
Many of us grew up before the age of digital communication, which makes life easier in many ways but more difficult in others — and especially for teens. Demands on teens’ time are greater than ever, more are from broken families, drug abuse and violence are often constants, and underage sex and teen pregnancy are far too common.
Enter Just Keep Livin’.
The organization formed by actor Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila, is designed to promote healthful eating, exercise and social development. And its programs now are in full gear at Longview High School which, as is common knowledge in these parts, is the actor’s alma mater.
McConaughey often plays somewhat goofy characters and affects a persona as an utterly free spirit. While we suspect some of that is his real-life personality, Just Keep Livin’ is proving to be a down-to-earth and astute attempt to reach teens who have struggled to get through the difficult age period.
It works with existing programs — Thrive360 and the Boys and Girls Club — to present a complement of opportunities for teenagers. Of course, many of our churches also offer support in this area.
McConaughey’s organization has the advantage of the “wow” factor because it is attached to the popular actor and we suspect that has helped make the entire range of programs more popular.
A News-Journal story this week quoted a number of students who are obviously being anchored by these programs. One teen participant called Just Keep Livin’ her “refuge,” and we’d suggest that alone says something positive about what is going on.
The Longview school district deserves credit for taking advantage of the program, which costs it nothing monetarily. But adding anything to the massive amount of today’s school activities presents the possibility for another headache for teachers and administrators.
For teenagers, however, programs such as Thrive 360 and Just Keep Livin’ can be the lifeline they need just to make it through another week. Sometimes, the extracurricular activities become the reason students go to school every day and remain interested.
Getting beyond a few rough spots is all some teens need to do well in school. Others may need the connection throughout their high school years. In either case, it helps set the proper foundation for success now and into the future.
It is true that such programs didn’t exist in most schools until recent years, but times have changed. Instead of questioning the need, we should all support them any way we can. These programs can make our students and schools better. That, in turn, makes our communities stronger, safer and more successful.
We suspect the successes will continue and hope these programs continue to grow and evolve for many years.