High School Youth Name-Change!: A Conversation with a Student

An explanation and a story from KJ Van Ek, High School Youth Director at GS:

The High School Youth Program at GS is excited to announce that it has ever so recently changed its name from “Youth Alive” to “real.life” (spelt as-is, complete with all lower-case letters and punctuation, but pronounced simply as “real life”)!

The basic idea behind the change revolves around this notion that many high school students feel like they’re in some sort of limbo, where they’re given many adult expectations and responsibilities, but then told they can’t begin “real life” until they get a “real job” or a “real car” or a “real significant other” or start a “real family” or face “real life problems,” as if everything they’re currently experiencing is somehow “fake.”

And so, in real.life, we hope to create a space in the lives of the students we serve at GS where they can feel free to be real in the here and now, right where they’re at in life. We want “RL” to be a place where our students can take themselves seriously as individuals who really matter and whose lives are more (much more) than a jumble of confusing and trivial experiences. Teens are real, their problems are real, their joys are real, their pain is real, their faith is real, and their lives are real.

Check out this conversation I had on Facebook chat with a really cool girl in the youth group a few hours after pitching the new name and logos to the youth group on Sunday morning…

The Convo:

KJ's Image KJ: dude

look at my facebook wall, haha

Student's Image Aly: Yo

KJ's Image KJ: read the post by my friend “Eric Thayer”

Student's Image Aly: What is it ohhh ok

KJ's Image KJ: he’s talking about graduating from college and heading off to his job in Wisconsin, and wrote at the end “then on to real life!”

i laughed a little when i saw that

Student's Image Aly: Haha yeah!

KJ's Image KJ: that’s just how me and my friends talk about the future, i guess

…far away jobs and families and cars and apartments are “real life”

Student's Image Aly: Apparently so….i guess I’m not quite at real life then hahaha
KJ's Image KJ: i mean, how twisted is life that what’s around us right now is not as “real” as stuff that’s far away and in the future, you know?

Anyways, that thought just occurred to me, and i thought it might be fun to share with you after telling the youth group of the new name this morning in youth group!

Student's Image Aly: Yeah every part of life is real it’s just different stages!
KJ's Image KJ: totally, and every part should be taken as seriously as the next
Student's Image Aly: I agree, it’s unfortunate when people say, “you’re still young, it doesn’t matter”
KJ's Image KJ: yeah man, that’s so totally what i want youth group to be about: taking students seriously and helping them realize how important right here, right now is

sweeeeet, aight, peace out, I gotta jet

Student's Image Aly: Ok bye

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