INDIANAPOLIS –  So the politics of it all really don’t matter so much. The important thing is that we are beginning to see that generation of kids we worry about step up and get involved in productive, if controversial, civic conversation.

You know the kids I mean, the ones who grew up in an online world that may not understand what a desktop mouse is, but they sure do know how to screenshot their favorite selfie of themselves wearing SnapChat pirate face.  Those same kids you saw in restaurants a few years ago, sitting at the end of the table with their cousins and siblings, all agog in their parents’ tablets and phones, faces aglow with screen light and deep distraction.  

It’s funny, just a few years ago the standard protocol for parents to keep tabs on their kids’ online lives was to keep their PC in the family room, common space where they could walk by and take note of what’s up in their kids’ virtual worlds.  

Now our kids go to sleep at night and wake up with their friends, frenemies and untold strangers held closely in the palm of their hand. Most of them have smartphones and know how to use them.  

While collective adult concern often centers around our youths’ ability to interact in person and relate to human beings in the same room, not just in Gdansk at the other end of an online game, something is happening. 

That concern also extends to an adult perceived lack of civic engagement among the younger generations. The Millennials have been the butt of jokes and rolled eyes at the workplace for years.

Are young people interested in more than Gigi Hadid’s eyeliner and other more salacious clickbait?

As it turns out, yes. Yes, they are. And if you look around, you will see that not only the expected student leaders in your community are stepping up.  Not only those kids with involved parents.  

They are standing up online, but they are also organizing in person. This week’s walkout demonstrate that kids care, and they care enough to show up and not just hide behind their keyboards.  

On a recent flight home from Washington I noticed a group of young girls, middle schoolers, in Uggs, scrunchies and MAGA hoodies. It was difficult not to hear them loudly, proudly geek out about their experience in the Capitol and their intention to keep the momentum going upon their return home.       

After asking them about their ambitions and intentions, I suggested that they reach out to women’s political organizations in their hometown for a hand up in their project. Of course, they schooled me in two seconds flat.  

Their counter-protest to Wednesday’s student walkout was already in the works. They had secured corporate sponsors and were working on their press packets. That’s right. These middle schoolers were composing press packets! While we clearly may not agree on the issues, I was proud and amazed by these young women and their sense of agency and organization as well as their clear accomplishment in action. 

My subsequent eavesdropping uncovered the intel that the students on the other side of the protest were similarly prepared, and neither group was willing to concede by laziness.  

Pretty cool when you think about it. It certainly makes me feel better about the future when we have young people owning their future and not only showing up, but making it happen. 

Government is healthier and more effective when people are involved and engaged. Fortunately, those coming behind us have this figured out. That said, buckle up friends.  

They are coming. 

Hale was the 2016 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee and served two terms in the Indiana House.