Coordinator of Teen Times Mike Granger and a young writer of the staff Luis Hurtault, were the guests of the board of the Rotary Club of St. Maarten in recognition of Rotary’s fifth avenue of service "New Generations". New Generations joins Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, and International Service as the foundation of club activity.
Granger was invited to speak about Teen Times, its history, purpose and role in the community. He also used the opportunity to impress upon Rotarians that contrary to popular thought; young people are not only interested in light entertainment. "They are also eager to learn, and drawn to information that shapes their identities, builds their sense of social belonging and makes sense of the world," he said.
Going through Teen Times’ list of accomplishments over 15 years, Granger credited Rotarian and President of The Daily Herald Roger Snow for having the vision to "green light" Teen Times, a media project that is The Daily Herald’s contribution to St. Maarten’s greatest asset, its youth.
"While we are proud of our history and our activities, we hold true to Teen Times as a youth media project that celebrates youth voice and showcase youth accomplishments. At our core is positive youth development and civic engagement. Through partnerships with our schools and others, young people learn the craft of communications and how to address local and global issues affecting their lives," Granger told the Rotarians.
He added that criteria such as being credible, comprehensible and uplifting, and empowering youth to think for themselves were recognized as key ingredients in making a quality publication.
He said it was encouraging to see young people taking up the challenge to provide their peers with diversified and high-quality media content, create opportunities for young people’s voices to be heard and push for ethical coverage of the youth. In this context he mentioned the recently launched Voice of Our Children youth group which have already launched their radio program and is about to launch their youth news TV program.
"But serious obstacles to advocating for children and youth through the media remain. Among them the lack of funding and the need for far more training for youth and for those producing material about or for young audiences. For our part, Teen Times intends to continue fulfilling our role in our community, we will continue harnessing the enormous positive potential of the media to make a real difference in the lives of St. Maarten’s young people by informing them, listening to them and ultimately empowering them," Granger said.
Following his presentation the Rotarians asked a number of questions regarding the advertising content of Teen Times, its importance in stimulating literacy, the make-up of the staff and the role the papers plays in showing young people that their generation is key teaching teens not to be divisive.
Youngster Luis Hurtault, a recent graduate of the St. Maarten Academy and former Interact Club member, told Rotarians that Teen Times inspires him to write, plays an important role in the community in terms of teenagers actually reading something. Luis intends to further his education in Holland where he will study Political science.