Brendan, creator of
contributed photo

Kids are going to change our world for the better. We can count on it. As per my last column (“Next generations resetting our world,” Tribune, Sept. 15), I reported on the idea that as certain society systems collapse, the next generations will step forward and “reset” our trajectory. (See The Fourth Turning by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe.)

Of course the fact that grown kids will take over the tattered adult world is not the news, it’s that the Millennials (born after 1980) and the New Silents (born after 2000) will most likely reset social mores and take us into a kinder, values based direction.

Right in our own East Valley, we have one of the best examples of just how it’s going to happen. Meet 12 year old Brenden, the owner/president of a movement to promote good sportsmanship. See his website: Brenden attends school at St. Thomas the Apostle School, is a “very busy” athlete, and volunteers for Feed My Starving Children, an organization which prepackages food for kids in poor countries.

Brenden awakened to his power of influence when his hockey team lost a game two years ago. As he and his teammates sought to shake hands with the winners, some of those winners refused. There and then Brenden’s life changed. “That was worse than losing the game,” he told his grandmother, Pat, who wisely suggested Brenden“figure out a way to promote good sportsmanship.”

And, thus a leader was born. With his own birthday and Christmas money, Brenden designed and produced a “Good Sports Rock” bracelet with two hands ready to shake. His dad helped create the website.

Perhaps you’ll want to go to Brenden’s website to buy bracelets and other “Good Sports Rock” products for your family. Christmas is coming; they’re a great gift. Proceeds go to Special Olympics Arizona. And, consider this: With us spreading Brenden’s message, via the products, we’ll compound one young man’s vision; we’ll become a carrier of change.

What’s useful to remember is who planted the seed of empowerment after Brenden’s game disappointment. Instead of ranting and teaching Brenden to think like a victim, to begrudge and seek retaliation, his grandmother suggested he find a way to improve the world.

She used her power as a mentor. But to Brenden’s credit, he heard and he acted and that’s what these new generations are poised to do. They will hear and respond. It’s predicted many will turn away from our narcissistic life style.

My guess is, we all have kids who can plant a seed and begin their role in changing their world. And, remember, children who are struggling in broken families can use otherpositive adults to point the best way to empowerment.

I’ve taken some heat from readers regarding my early September column berating black leaders who encourage youth to view themselves as victims. As they do so, they ignore this truth: As long as “it’s” someone else’s fault, they will remain powerless and fail. Census statistics don’t lie. It’s all there in the numbers. As for my bombastic detractors, they compound the problem; they are the problem.

It’s the Brendens and their families, the hope of the nation, who keep me writing. No matter race, income or education, all can change or damn society. We choose. We either help these children of the future or make it harder by teaching victim-ology.

East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor. She can be reached at

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