Hello and welcome to The Teens' Speech blog. A place dedicated to discussing issues of significance to young people in particular and the nation as a whole.
The Teens' Speech

THE TEENS' SPEECH BLOG

On Christmas Day this year, teenage Britain delivered its own message to the nation. Find out more

Is this it?

In November, The NME released its top 100 albums of the decade, at its summit was the instant classic, Is This It? by The Strokes. As we approach the end of the year and the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it seems a timely winner - I mean, is this it? Do we keep calm and carry on or are we going to collectively leap into the limitless possibilities of an unwritten future?

For the remaining weeks of The Teens' Speech project, we're going to turn our attention to the future. We'll be asking teenagers where they see themselves, their family, community and country in the coming years. It's always been at the heart of this project and something we feel connects older generations to what we are doing. At its core, The Teens' Speech is a chance for us to glimpse the future through young peoples hopes, aspirations and personal sense of opportunity.

As Barack Obama recently demonstrated, harnessing and articulating the hopes of the young can be a powerful force for political change. His presidential campaign focussed specifically on the young and by tapping into their optimism, he was able to radically renew a staid and moribund political landscape. It's undoubtedly something which British politicians will seek to emulate in the months leading up to next years general election.

So, as we rip the last page from the calendar year and turn to the future to ask what it holds, we're not just engaging in a romantic notion - although that's also a part of it - we're doing something that carries tremendous potential for personal and social change. Because if we can see it, imagine it and believe it - then we can make it happen.

The Teens' Speech thrives on participation. If you're aged 13-19, head over to YouTube or MySpace and tell us what the future means to you. If, like me, you're a tad older than 19, then subscribe to our Twitter feed or friend us on Facebook. Hell, you could even leave me a message on the blog. My door is always open.

Making something of love

Do you have to be in love to have sex?

In the latest in our series of online polls, we asked visitors to The Teens' Speech MySpace page if they thought love was a precondition to having sex.

Nearly 75% said it wasn't, leaving just over 25% of hardcore romantics who maintained it was.

In a year that has seen teenage pregnancies increase for the first time in seven years, does being in love make us more responsible lovers? Could good old-fashioned romantic love actually be of lasting social benefit?

It's not a new concept - love underpins Christian notions of social justice and love was considered so potent in the hands of John Lennon, he was apparently targetted by both the FBI and CIA.

Making The Teens' Speech film (Part II)

Scott, aka Debaserxx

Last week, the team assembled on a clear, bright saturday morning in Clerkenwell, London, for our third day of shooting interviews for the Teens' Speech film.

Our filming team is made up of the director, Virginia, the cameraman, Will, sound engineer, Steven, studio manager, Candy (yes, Candy), project manager Claire, social outreach manager, Ollie and myself.

I feel like the film is in the very capable hands of our director, but at the same time I need to be sure that we're doing everything we can to deliver the film we promised.

A big part of this is ensuring our webcam contributors are included in the Teens' Speech documentary. Today we have some young people who, after uploading videos to our YouTube channel, were invited to appear in the film.

One of them, Scott (aka Debaserxx), is late. Public transport in London is in chaos as many tube lines are down for maintenance. It's been an endless kick in the teeth to weekend commuters in London and it doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon.

Anyway, our man is caught up in it. The clock is ticking, the bright sky has given way to a luminous rainswept twilight and with 5 or 6 interviews already in the bag, this is pushing our schedule back beyond our agreed wrap time of 7pm.

He finally turns up. Quiet, nervous, friendly. We usher him onto our 'set' - a small, extremely well lit black box, with a small flourescent green plastic chair positioned in the middle. I like the look of it there, illuminated by the professional lights. Its simplicity and mundanity has a kind of power to it and the muffled silence of the room lends it a confessional quality.

Our director, Viriginia, talks Scott through the process while Steven sorts out the sound; she'll ask some questions, he needs to look directly into the camera and maintain eye contact after every question to help us in the edit. He acknowledges this and nervously laughs to himself.

He's in a black box, looking directly at a camera, surrounded by three strangers and about to be asked some rather penetrating questions. Why wouldn't he be nervous? I'd be nervous.

And so the camera rolls and the questions start.

Obviously, I'll give nothing away here, but what I will tell you, what I'm happy to tell you is that something quite extraordinary and powerful happened during that interview. I felt like I was in the presence of the purest kind of unadulterated, heartfelt honesty. It was a humbling experience and I felt an enormous sense of privilege being in that room with Scott.

I guess on Christmas Day,when the film goes out on Myspace we all have the chance to be sit in that room and experience something quite special. I hope so.

No place like home

Race, homophobia, crime, knives, gangs, ASBOs, the police, prostitution - teengers this week will tell us what communal Britain is like now and how it has to change to improve the lives of young people.

If you are aged 13-19 and have an opinion on your community, then visit YouTube and MySpace and get it off your chest.

We want to know what things are like for you now, but also how you would make Britain a better place.

We asked our friends how often they took drugs

Every day we are running a quick and very dirty poll on MySpace, designed to be thought-provoking, conversation-starting and a little bit revealing.

Last week, we asked visitors to MySpace how often they took drugs. Out of a poll sample of 200 people, 43% claimed to be entirely drug free, a noteworthy 57% polled that they had taken drugs at least once or twice a year and over 14% revealed they took drugs on a daily basis.

Of course, this poll is not scientific - but, it does reflect that drugs-related issues are a big concern to teenagers. They are feeling an unprecedented level of stress - about school, fitting in, looking good and being liked.

Clearly, drinking and taking drugs are an easy, readily available and highly effective means of relieving the pressure.

If you're aged 13-19 and want to get involved in The Teens' Speech - by answering polls, uploading a video or just adding a comment - visit our MySpace page or YouTube channel.