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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: The Heroes of Today

Joey Nicotra

If you were to look at my bookshelves, you could be forgiven for assuming I was much younger than the age you'd find on my driver's license. While I grew up in between the era of The Hardy Boys solving crimes and Katniss Everdeen shooting her arrows, I've developed a fondness for young adult literature. Of course, that fondness extends particularly to the stories of those who have been denied power yet have found creative and redeeming ways of reclaiming their voice, making themselves heard, and changing the world for all of us.

In my work at Safe Passage, our local domestic violence and sexual assault crisis center, I frequently spend my days in the classroom talking with young people of all ages about healthy relationships, body autonomy, and more. What never fails to strike me in my conversations with these young people, is just how much I see those heroes of young adult novels in their everyday lives. We think about the politicians and the leaders who are working to make our country better. We see adults who take charge and speak up. But what would the world be like if we spent a little more time listening to our kids? It's not their responsibility to take the changing of the world on their small shoulders, and yet I see them willing to do that each and every day.

I may never run into a real-life superhero, a freedom fighter navigating a disaster, or young person saving us from our dystopian future, but I meet my heroes each and every day right here in DeKalb County. Young people, you're changing the world. On behalf of adults everywhere, thank you.

I'm Lynnea Erickson Laskowski, and that's my Perspective.