Look to Youngsters for Inspiration...
WITH much of the news dominated by youths stabbing other youngsters it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking all teenagers are bad.
But of course this is ridiculous - the vast majority of young people are decent, law-biding and, well, mostly respectful.
Those are the kids we rarely get to hear about in the news because helping or proving to be an inspiration to others ain't as 'sexy' as a good old bad news story about young thugs.
Now the Sunday Sun recently featured a story about a 16-year-old youth called Daniel Squires who sadly died from cancer after a two year struggle.
Some of you may not have read the double page spread in the newspaper about him (July 13th), so I'll relay a little about Daniel, if I may.
Daniel was diagnosed with cancer in his hip on his 15th birthday. After receiving chemotherapy and looking as if he would beat it, the doctors had to tell him and his family after more tests the cancer had returned.
They told him he had to have his leg amputated if he was to have a chance of life - otherwise he would be dead within months.
Daniel wanted to be a sports coach and was already taking his first steps towards this admirable vocation when he was struck down with this terrible disease.
Can you imagine what it would feel like to have your leg amputated aged 15 and see your dreams lying shattered on the ground? Many of us would have fallen into utter despair at the cruel hand played to us in the poker game of life.
But not Daniel - I visited him in hospital shortly after his leg had been amputated to do a story on how martial artist Sifu Steve Youngman was planning to stage a martial arts seminar to raise cash so Daniel could afford a specialist prosthetic leg costing ÃÂ£20,000. This false leg would allow him to further his sports ambitions.
When we published this heart-breaking story the community of Jarrow and indeed the North East also joined in this cause. Daniel had become an inspiration, a figure of hope over adversity. Pubs, clubs, individuals and groups such as the Tyneside Irish Centre all helped raised this cash and instead of the years it was envisaged it would take to raise the money it was done within months.
Sadly Daniel's cancer spread and there was nothing the doctors at the RVI could do - it was now terminal.
Did Daniel be-cry his fate? Did Daniel turn to anger and despair?
No - with a maturity usually not found in those far older, he accepted his bitter lot with a smile and determination to make the most of his now short life.
Befriended by stars such as The Who lead singer Roger Daltrey, Babyshambles front man Pete Doherty and Noel Gallagher of Oasis he showed them what real courage was. They responded to this with great kindness - as had all those 'ordinary' people of his community, those martial artists who raised money for him, and the medics who tended his slow descent towards the end.
Did his teenage friends desert him? No - they were there for him right to the end.
But nor did Daniel desert those friends at the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the RVI. Although he was dying, and sick from both the tumours and his gruelling treatment, he still made the arduous journey from his Jarrow home by himself to the RVI to bring them gifts and encouragement.
Sadly Daniel died at home with his mum Becky at his side. In one of the cruel twists of fate he was buried on his 17th birthday.
The next time you may venture to think that all teens are bad - remember Daniel and how his courage inspired so many.
Remember his kindness to his fellow teens also suffering from this terrible affliction. And remember his teenage friends who never deserted him.
There's a lot of goodness in today's youth if you care to look...