The following is a copy of Cowra Lions Club Youth of the Year winner Jemma Pokoney’s speech given as part of the competition.
(min cost $8)
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“As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow” or, as Albert Schweitzer (the renowned Philosopher and Theologian) once said. “EXAMPLE is NOT only the main thing in influencing others – it is the ONLY thing”.
Firstly, what exactly does the “twig” and the “tree” refer to.
Well the “twig” represents, predominantly, the formative years of a person’s life; and the “tree” signifies the people we become. So, how can the twig be bent?
If, as a child, you are not taught, or indeed, shown the importance of discipline, good manners, strong morals, truth, compassion, empathy & honesty, then you will carry those very same traits into adulthood. Imagine the child who has never experienced discipline being told on the first day at school “No – that particular behaviour in NOT allowed!!
Imagine the young adult starting their first job, without any concept or, or regard for, the expected qualities of considering others, safety awareness, teamwork and, at times, humility.
Social media is also a huge influence on people of all ages, but probably, most critically younger people. Raised in a world dominated by texting, messaging, tweeting, face-booking and the like, today’s children have replaced eye contact with Instagram, replaced a chat on the phone with texting, and replaced an open discussion with an email.
No longer do our parents flick through family photos remembering times gone by, and reminiscing with their children. Today, parents can’t wait to “post” a photo of their newborn on youtube, or take a selfie and “sms” it to all their “contacts”.
I had an elderly friend make a very good observation just recently. He noted that once upon a time one would remove one’s hat when greeting one another – now days you have to somehow get their attention so they can remove their earphones!
Every day I see children and teenagers literally glued to their social media devices, completely oblivious to the world around them, the beautiful breeze, the wonderful noises – even the friend sitting next to them – all because of one single device.
I personally can’t remember just how many times I have approached someone in order to have a one-on-one, face to face conversation, to find them happily in their own world of blaring music.
Other technology can also “bend the twig”. Many experts believe that some “video games” can adversely affect children by “normalizing” anything.
The internet provides untold volumes of inappropriate footage, images and information, which again, can threaten to “normalize” subject matter, that even by today’s standards, is racist, crude, decisive or straight out inappropriate for any age. Yet, I wonder how may children, are, as I speak, using their X-Box, Playstation, Phone or IPad, while mum and dad sit in another room watching TV.
We must all accept and acknowledge that what we do as parents, siblings, friends and educators has a direct (and potentially life changing) influence on others.
This is a huge responsibility that as “example setters”, we must accept. We must constantly be aware of the example we set for our children, our siblings, our friends, our students and our workmates.
How can a child learn to love books when no-one has ever read him or her a bedtime story? How can a younger sibling learn to be sharing and caring, whilst growing up with a selfish, self-centered older brother or sister?
How can a teenager engage in meaningful conversation, when all around are glued to their electronic device?
How can an apprentice rise to a level of excellence, when their training involves colleagues who arrive late, and have no regard for safety or work standards??
The answers to these questions are in our hands, and well worth plenty of thought!
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