What Do the Cool Kids Do These Days? Build Robotic Easter Eggs for Vision-Impaired Kids.

by Greg Prestemon

They spend too much time staring at their phones. They win too many participation trophies. They have a horrible work ethic. They are (pick a derogatory term) lazy, entitled, coddled, or the end of mankind as we know it. Unlike every other generation that came before them, they are not mature, ambitious, thoughtful, or fantastic communicators.

I’m talking about young people.

And because the world at least has some sort of theoretical limit on how much we can talk about millennials, we must move on and start complaining about the next generation, the one still in high school.

If we don’t, a lot of middle-aged millennial-focused conference speakers are going to starve.

Except I don’t believe young people today are worse than previous generations.

Yes, young people are different—but every generation is different. And every previous generation complains about the next generation.

In a speech to the English House of Commons in 1843, the Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, warned of “a fearful multitude of untutored savages” that included boys “with dogs at their heels and other evidence of dissolute habits” and girls who “ride astride upon horses.”

Apparently, girls riding astride upon horses was more important than the host of diseases you could get just from visiting London—but misplaced priorities are probably one reason why the sun actually did set on the English empire (that and really poor dental hygiene).

Seriously though, older generations always complain about young people, somehow believing that a generation being new and different is somehow new and different. In the process of constantly (and often falsely) talking about how much better their generation was than the latest group of young people, they miss how inspiring today’s young people can be.

In St. Charles County, we have a whole lot of inspiring young people, including the Lutheran High School robotics team.

The team recently partnered with the St. Charles County Police Department’s bomb squad to create Easter eggs containing electronic devices that emit a “chirping” sound. The electronic eggs will be used during an Easter egg hunts for visually impaired children. After the hunt, children will exchange the electronic eggs for eggs containing normal Easter egg stuff, like candy and toys.

First of all, taxpayers in our county get their money’s worth.

A bomb squad partnering with local youth to give blind and visually impaired children a chance to hunt Easter eggs?

I’ve been in economic development basically my entire adult life. When you do what my team and I do, you try and recruit employers in part by showing them data illustrating how great your community is. When it comes to our data, we have a lot to be proud of—but there’s no data that measures an officer from your county’s bomb squad sitting next to a high school senior building chirping Easter eggs for blind kids.

There just isn’t data to measure something like that—but those are the small moments, that when taken together, create a great place to live and work.

Second, young people today inspire me.

When I was growing up, high school was far more socially stratified. Being “cool” definitely didn’t include spending your free time making Easter better for kids born with challenges you never had to face.

It’s easy to get disillusioned or even scared of the world today and what the future might hold.

That’s one reason why I find a story like this so inspiring.

The scary, disillusioning stuff wasn’t created by young people. In fact, I know many young people doing inspiring things—like winning STEM awards for programs that could save a farmer’s life.

Or working with the bomb squad to create an Easter egg hunt for visually impaired kids.

Point being, sometimes things may look bleak now, but one day these young people will be in charge.

And I’m excited to see the world they create.

Greg Prestemon is President and CEO of the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners.