The challenges facing the youth of La Crescenta fueled prayers by local leaders and clergy who spoke on their behalf at the first ever Crescenta Valley Town Council Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday.
More than 250 people gathered at Holy Redeemer’s Healy Hall, where Chap Clark — a professor of youth, family and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary — addressed the stress and loneliness felt by so many of today’s teens.
In 2001 and 2002, Clark worked as a daily substitute teacher at Crescenta Valley High School where his three children attended and he observed how teens felt about their lives.
After each class, Clark would inform the students that he was writing a book on teens and ask them to anonymously share their thoughts on their lives.
Students would eventually write more than 1,000 letters, notes and poems that Clark would consume after each school day.
“I’d go back to my car at the end of the day and it killed me,” he said.
He’d later travel the country for eight months interviewing rural, urban and suburban teens in 17 focus groups. There were two conclusions: nearly all the teens felt the pressure to conform to adults around them, and they felt alone.
Clark’s research was published in his 2004 book, “Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers.”
“Without a doubt this is the most stressed generation in history,” Clark said. “Without a doubt this is the most isolated generation in history.”
He called on everyone to “provide the hopeful blessing for every adolescent that stands before us,” adding that “prayer without response is meaningless.”
Eight local religious leaders offered prayers of unity. Rabbi Janet Bieber of the Jewish Community and Learning Center of the Foothills finished her prayer by saying, “Each word and act of kindness is another path of joy.”
Khaled Soliman, a member of the Islamic Center of Southern California, translated a prayer from Arabic to English: “The best among you is one who is God-conscious. It is not your color, it is not your wealth. It is your God-conscious."