Can Creativity Help Us to Break Down the Generational Divide?

We envision a world in which all young people lead creative, purposeful lives.

Think of your friendship groups and ask yourself, who are you friends with? Do your friends resemble you in any way? How about in the ways they dress, the choices they make, the places they hang out, the lifestyle they choose? How often do you find yourself having a really deep conversation with someone who is from a totally different background and lifestyle? Research documented in the scientific social psychology journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations found that people have a strong tendency to choose friends who are similar to themselves. “There’s a lot of evidence that we like similar others,” says Chris Crandall, psychology professor at the University of Kansas and co-author of the study.

One of the similarities that often comes up is age group. We have a strong tendency to choose the company of those who are of a similar age to ourselves.

At PYE, our Creative Empowerment Model residential camps bring together adult mentors of varying ages and young people aged 14-18. As part of the Model we encourage genuine connection and communication between adults and youth. We make every effort to create a community where every voice is valued equally and where adults participate in all events alongside the young people.

Earlier this year we saw this generational exchange in action at our Catch the Fire training on the beautiful Whidbey Island, 20 miles North of Seattle. PYE co-founders Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy led a residential training with a group of participants aged 17 to 77. “I think that was one of the coolest aspects of this very awesome training,” said Charlie.

PYE believes that when people come together and share their stories, amazing shifts of perspective and empathy can happen. “I so appreciated the diversity of age and background” said another participant. “I am reminded how much I love people and life.”

“Catch The Fire creative facilitation training was VERY inspiring,” says Claire Mortifee, one of the younger participants. “Being in a group with such varied age range was a rare blessing. The activities we did with PYE invited our individual imaginations and creativity, which allowed our hearts to open and our true selves to come out. In being invited to engage and reflect with individuals from ages 17-77, diverse and valuable insights surfaced that wouldn’t have if the whole group was in the same stage of life.”

This training, a compliment to the first PYE book, focused on ways to bring creativity into your everyday life and also on facilitating events that help to free the creative voice of other people. “It is the most genuine experience of self reflection. At the end you become real to one another,” said one participant.

Also amongst the attendees, Kamella Kafiyeva, an adult mentor, working with our partner organization Young Women Empowered. She was accompanying three youth interns from the organization, all aged 17-18. “It was powerful to share the experience of learning creative facilitation and inner leadership alongside our youth leaders,” she says.  Kamella witnessed each young person growing in their skills and abilities “I felt grateful that they had a supportive space to exercise their inner leadership,” she said.

At PYE, we will continue to create opportunities for people to cross lines of difference. If you would like to find out more about introducing these experiences to your work with youth or adults, take a look at our upcoming trainings.

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BLOG Writing Sections

News: PYE updates, jobs, workshop announcements

Thought Leadership: Innovation Center publications, research, Creative Empowerment Model

Adult Learning: Stories of success using PYE facilitation practices

Impact Stories: Stories from our partners and PYE annual reports

Youth Empowerment: Camps, tips for youth work, camp youth profiles


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