I know how awesome teens can be. But so often, it seems like they don’t know. Sure, some of them get positive messages from their parents or teachers: “You can be president! You can be an astronaut! You can be anything you want when you grow up!”

But not so much about what they can do right now.

This isn’t about self-esteem. There are plenty of resources out there telling kids that they’re cute enough, smart enough, cool enough, whatever. I know that spending your whole day feeling ugly is a problem, but I’m not sure thinking about how pretty you are is the solution. Feel noble because you act noble. I don’t think most people need an ego boost. I think they need an example.

And, while it’s important, it’s not enough for me to be that example. Why? I’m an adult. I can be an astronaut. I can be president. (Not really. I’m physically unsuited for the one and underage for the other. But still.) 12-year-olds don’t have raging doubts about what a 28-year-old can accomplish.

So I’ve taken to collecting news articles about young people. Mostly middle school students, but some younger and some older. They’re not just articles about youth who, wonder of wonders, aren’t killing each other or vandalizing their neighborhoods, or even those who win spelling bees or Citizen of the Month awards. These are kids who are looking for cancer cures, creating systems to protect victims of abuse, starting businesses, and acting as stewards of the planet. Little things and big things, but things that have an impact outside of their classrooms and their families.

It’s so easy to let youth live down to our expectations. Why not invite them to live their dreams for the future, instead?

A few examples to get you inspired:

If you run into any good articles or videos like this, be sure to send them my way. I’m always looking for more!