Being a teen in Teignbridge, International Youth Day

Gina Bourne, Day Care Manager

Sunday the 12th August is International Youth Day in the UK, celebrating the qualities of young people and looking at the challenges faced by today’s tweens and teens.

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Being a teen today

Today, young people can enjoy a world of digital gaming, virtual interactions and reality TV shows that bring entire generations together, but is this access to technology giving our young people a better youth than the older generations in the area?

To see how much times have changed, we asked some of the former youngsters of our area, now in their late 80’s how they remember being a teen in Teignbridge.

Have things really changed?

Some things have stayed the same in many respects, like the draw of the latest movie to hit the big screen and idolising celebrities, but the backdrop of an economic depression in the 1930’s and the austerity brought by World War II meant that you needed to make your own fun. However, the variety of church groups and youth clubs as well as being encouraged to play outside meant there was lots of fun and games to be had and it was also considered to be a much safer environment for young people to play in.  

How our Resident’s remember

Looking at the differences in being the youth of the day, we asked some of the residents at St Andrews House Residential Home in Ashburton what their memories of being a teenager were.

Remembering a different time, Eve Blake reflected “I was 13 when war broke out, so evening activities were very restricted. My sisters and I spent most of our free time at Goodrington where we had a beach hut. We swam in the sea and became strong swimmers. I belonged to the Girl Guides where we met once a week, but we couldn’t do any camping. We would go scrumping for blackberries or prawning in the sea and then cook what we caught. In the spring we would go ‘primrosing’, but generally we had a lot of homework and helping our mother around the house.

I enjoyed growing up in Devon because there were so many free things to do and family to do things with.”

Cynthia Bovey continued “I belonged to an amateur drama group and the local church youth club. Being from Devon I could play in my garden as we lived in the country. I felt lucky to grow up here as during the war years it was safer than most other places.”

When asked if they would want to be a teenager in today’s world, Peggy Carter commented “I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today because there’s so much pressure on them and lots of problems with drink and drugs.”

In fact, most people we asked said they wouldn’t want to be a teenager today specifically because they don’t understand or wouldn’t want to use the modern technology which most tweens and teens base most of their social activities around. Only one resident would like to go back to their teenage years because it meant they could be more active again.

Teignbridge Today

The focus of the UN International Youth Movement is to create safe spaces for our young people, something it seems was a given in yesteryear. We’re lucky in Teignbridge that it’s one of the best places in the country to live with safe spaces still existing around our communities, so whether you’re 17 or 70, growing up here is something all generations can agree is something to be thankful for.

You can read more about International Youth Day here.