In a world where water is essential for life, its contamination can unleash a silent and treacherous enemy. The effects are insidious and wreak havoc on human bodies. From chronic illnesses to developmental disorders, contaminated water leaves no aspect of our lives untouched. It robs us of our vitality, our potential, and our future. Furthermore, combating the ills associated with contaminated water is a challenging and complex task. It requires scientific analysis, infrastructure development, and collaborative approaches to safeguard public health and provide sustainable solutions.

But the wonders of innovation and dedication cannot be underestimated too. For instance, ‘Tethys‘—a revolutionary creation crafted by the genius of scientific innovation—is a portable device designed to detect lead in drinking water. The device uses carbon nanotubes to detect the presence of lead particles, providing a quick and cost-effective way to identify potential lead contamination in water sources. With meticulous engineering and profound insight, Tethys transcends the boundaries of conventional detection methods. It is a simple and accessible tool for detecting lead; Tethys aims to empower individuals and communities to take action and protect their health. Tethys has even garnered significant attention and recognition for its innovation and potential impact.

Now when the profundity of such a noble, accessible, and easy-to-use solution for a complex problem is set, it makes sense to acknowledge the inventor behind it.  That’s where the conventional boundaries blur and astonishment sets its pace when the world learns that a 12-year-old kid created the invention! Yes, Tethys is an invention created by Gitanjali Rao, a young American inventor, and scientist. In fact, Rao has also been involved in various other projects and initiatives focused on addressing societal challenges such as opioid addiction and cyberbullying. She created an app named Kindly that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to detect and combat cyberbullying. The app helps individuals identify and respond to harmful online behaviour, promoting a secure and more inclusive digital environment. 

The accomplishments and level of dedication of youngsters like Rao challenge traditional notions that associate age solely with competence and success. These ambitious and devoted young minds exemplify a new perspective that emphasises the value of talent, passion, and innovation, irrespective of age. The emergence and examples of many more budding young individuals like Gitanjali Rao, with their remarkable achievements and unwavering perseverance, serve as a compelling illustration that sparks the question: Does age truly matter in our society?

Age, an intricate facet intertwined within the fabric of human existence, has perpetually captivated and engendered ongoing discourse and speculation. The question of whether age truly matters is a perennial dilemma that has perplexed philosophers, researchers, and individuals alike. On the one hand, age is regarded as a fundamental marker of experience, wisdom, and maturity. It is seen as a yardstick for societal roles, expectations, and accomplishments. On the other hand, age can be deemed an arbitrary limitation that unfairly restricts opportunities and undermines the potential of individuals. Does age truly define our abilities, aspirations, and contributions, or should we transcend the confines of chronological years and focus on the vast spectrum of talents and capabilities that exist within each individual?

In society, the conventional role of age and experience has long been regarded as a cornerstone of wisdom, leadership, and authority. Older individuals are often revered for their accumulated knowledge, expertise, and life experiences. They are entrusted with decision-making roles and assumed to possess a deep understanding of the world. However, as the world evolves at an unprecedented pace, the contrasting perspective of youngsters emerges. The youth bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and adaptability to rapidly changing landscapes. Their digital fluency, creativity, and passion challenge the notion that age necessarily equates to competence. The conventional role of age and experience, when balanced with the recognition that young individuals hold immense potential and can bring transformative change to society. Embracing intergenerational collaboration allows for blending traditional wisdom with youthful vigor, fostering a dynamic and inclusive ecosystem that benefits from the strengths of all age groups.

The realization of this transformative vision hinges upon the recognition and earnest consideration of the young generation, which strives for an equal footing with their older counterparts. When the young’s voices, ideas, and perspectives are taken as seriously as those of the older generation, true intergenerational collaboration flourishes. Indeed, it is crucial to recognize that the expertise of older seasoned veterans should not be undermined in the face of youthful vigor. While the energy and fresh perspectives of the youth are invaluable, it is equally important to honor the wealth of knowledge and experience that older generations possess.

 A striking recent example of this is Dr. Anthony Fauci, a distinguished immunologist, and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States. Throughout the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Fauci’s wealth of experience and knowledge accumulated over several decades played a pivotal role in guiding decision-making processes and offering a sense of reassurance to the global community. His steadfast dedication and unwavering commitment to public health underscored the significance of embracing the wisdom and insights of seasoned veterans. Society can genuinely thrive by recognizing that expertise, skills, devotion, and collaboration transcend age. The combined contributions of individuals like Dr. Anthony Fauci and young innovators like Gitanjali Rao serve as a testament to the power of synergy between different generations, exemplifying a holistic approach that appreciates each age group’s value. It is through this mutual respect and inclusion that the cumulative power of wisdom and enthusiasm can be fully harnessed. By embracing the valuable contributions of both young and old, societies can unleash the boundless potential that lies within their collaborative efforts.

This evolving perspective prompts us to reconsider the role of age and highlights the importance of nurturing and empowering young generations to shape a brighter future. This inclusive approach paves the way for a future where intergenerational collaboration becomes the bedrock of progress, propelling humanity toward collective prosperity and a shared legacy of excellence. It signifies a shift towards a society that values individual abilities and recognizes that age should not be a defining factor in determining one’s potential to create lasting and meaningful contributions. In fact, we see the shift happening and taking place slightly. For instance, in 2023, we are witnessing the continued efforts to challenge age-based stereotypes and promote inclusive opportunities. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft have actively sought to diversify their workforce, recognizing the value of intergenerational teams. By recruiting and empowering employees of various age groups, these enterprises create environments where talent, skills, and experiences converge, leading to enhanced innovation and problem-solving.

The designation of 2023 as the Year of Youth by the Commonwealth Countries marks a significant milestone in recognizing and celebrating the immense potential, talent, and impact of young people across the globe. It showcases a powerful perspective that 2.65 billion people hold toward the Commonwealth youth, recognizing them as agents of change and catalysts for progress. This dedicated year serves as a platform to elevate youth’s voices, aspirations, and contributions, highlighting their role as key drivers of social change and innovation. It offers a unique opportunity to address young individuals’ specific challenges and opportunities, ranging from education and employment to mental health and environmental sustainability. The Year of Youth encourages governments, organisations, and communities to prioritise youth empowerment, participation, and inclusion in decision-making processes and policy development. By focusing on the needs and aspirations of young people, the Year of Youth aims to foster greater collaboration, generate innovative solutions, and create supportive environments that nurture the growth and well-being of the next generation. Through various initiatives, programs, and events, 2023 as the Year of Youth aims to inspire and empower young individuals to unleash their potential, shape their own destinies, and collectively build a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Indeed, the discourse surrounding the significance of age ultimately points to a resounding answer: No, age does not inherently determine one’s worth or potential contributions. Instead, what truly matters are the timeless qualities that transcend age barriers. Competence and skill serve as the foundation for success, allowing individuals to showcase their expertise regardless of their age. Innovation and creativity—the lifeblood of progress—are not bound by time constraints but flourish through fresh perspectives and daring ideas. Passion and drive, the fuel that propels individuals forward, know no age limits and can ignite a sense of purpose at any stage of life. Collaboration and communication, vital for a prosperous society, thrive when diverse generations come together, each offering unique insights and experiences. Lastly, adaptability and resilience, crucial in navigating a rapidly changing world, are virtues that transcend age, as the ability to embrace new challenges and bounce back from adversity knows no age boundaries. By shifting the focus from age to these enduring qualities, society can unlock the full potential of individuals, fostering a more inclusive, dynamic, and forward-thinking world.

Photography by: Maël BALLAND on Unsplash