The kids are alright

By Vivian Collings

You may have noticed, but we feature kids and youth a lot in the Echo and the Times.
Our papers are usually full of smiling young faces and success stories to go with them.
That’s exactly the way we want it.
Of course every generation is important, every person in the county is important, and everyone contributes in different ways to making our little world in the Highlands turn, but, and I’m going to sound like every graduation speech ever, youth are the future.
According to Statistics Canada, only 14 per cent of the population in Haliburton village is under the age of 19. 
Thirty-four per cent are retirement age: 65 or older. 
Fifty-two per cent are 55 and older.
That data is pretty skewed.
It means we don’t have enough young people to fill jobs when the 52 per cent retires in a few years.
We see this in “now hiring” and “help wanted” signs taped to storefront windows.
It means we don’t have enough young people here to provide care for the population, especially seniors.
We see this in the list of hundreds in the county still waiting to be assigned to a family doctor.
Like I said in my editorial a couple of weeks ago, it means there aren’t any young volunteers to carry on with necessary charitable events and programs.
When I was in high school here, I remember being one of the few who said they wanted to end up back in the county.
I can’t nail down the exact reasons why most others couldn’t wait to leave, but I can remember that many felt bored, wanted a change, and, especially, didn’t think there was enough opportunity here for them to carry out their career goals.
I felt the same way about the last one. I wanted to live here because I’m a home body, but I never thought I’d be able to get a fulfilling job for myself.
I went away to school thinking I had to sacrifice living in the place I loved the most to have a career in the field I wanted.
If that’s how I felt as someone who wanted to stay, think about how easy it was for some of my classmates to go and not look back if they found what they were looking for elsewhere.
That’s definitely not what we want youth to think.
Of course it’s important for kids to spread their wings, but we want them to feel like Haliburton County is a place for them to be enabled to do so.
After speaking with Jenn Mills, the new principal at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School, I felt so uplifted.
What her and the other staff at HHSS are trying to do is create just that for students: an environment for each individual to thrive in, no matter their strengths or interests.
She graduated from HHSS, went to post-secondary school, and came back to try and nurture the same environment that she loved so much.
Making our kids feel seen, heard, and celebrated is the best start to making Haliburton a welcoming place for the younger generation.