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COMING OF AGE | Our restless hearts

At a Steubenville Conference not too long ago, Life Teen's Emily Wilson told hundreds of young people that we are all hungry and thirsty for more than what the world has to offer.

At a certain time in our lives, we realize something is missing, so we start looking, searching, yearning. Wilson talked about how often we go around trying to find solutions for this thirst, trying to fill it with vanity, material possessions, social status, sex and the desire to be loved and other things. But we actually have a "God-shaped hole" in our hearts, she said.

COMING OF AGE | Teens can share the journey of migrants and refugees

Of the 65.6 million displaced people in the world, 10.3 million became displaced in 2016, reported the United Nations refugee agency. This equates to one person becoming displaced every three seconds.

Many of these migrants, refugees and internally displaced people are children and teenagers. Yet often their journeys are invisible, and they are voiceless. Or, for some countries, they become just a number.

But these are human beings with lives and stories.

GUEST COLUMNIST | Fresh habits for the new school year

Every new school year is a chance for a fresh start. It's exciting, but as weeks go by, we can fall back into bad habits. There are ways to maintain your drive to succeed despite new (and old) challenges.

Here are some tips for the new academic year:

• Prioritize your physical, mental and spiritual health.

• Get enough sleep. Sleeping more than six hours allows for brain development (which occurs until age 25 or 30). A regular sleep schedule also helps you retain knowledge and make healthier decisions.

COMING OF AGE | TV series ignores suicide prevention help for teens

While the Netflix original series "13 Reasons Why" has received praise for addressing issues that teenagers face, such as sexual violence and bullying, some mental health professionals contend that the show glamorizes the idea of suicide and could lead teens to think that suicide is the only option to traumatic and painful experiences. Instead, suicide prevention advocates say, the series should have sent the message that there are other options to find help and healing.

COMING OF AGE | Technology and social media empower youth

Social media platforms encourage young people to create and share content with their peers around the globe, which has amplified their voices and their potential to make a difference.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations, information and communication technology has played a central role in young people's rise to prominence on a global scale.

"It has helped them to mobilize behind a common cause and to collaborate, and it has given them a voice where before they had none," the agency stated in the report from 2013.

COMING OF AGE | What are you waiting for? Trust!

Recently a colleague shared his experiences of the 2017 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and told us how he was re-energized by the powerful testimonies there. As I listened to him and looked into the event, the theme of the LA Youth Day prior to the congress caught my attention.

Nearly 13,000 teens who attended the youth day were asked, "What are you waiting for?" This theme challenged the teens not to delay living out their faith.

Have you ever put off a decision or action that you knew you needed to make? Did you reflect on why you hesitated to take that step?

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