How Does Youth Civic Engagement Change History?
In the last decade, youth civic engagement has been on the rise. Registering to vote and being socially aware is something that the newest generation has found to be important to their identity. Youth activism, however, has been integral to some of the biggest movements in United States history. And despite there only being a few nationally recognizable young faces fighting for important causes, there are countless youth making a difference in their local communities.
In recent years there have been a multitude of movements started or amplified by youth in the community. In 2018 after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, millions of people came to DC for the March for Our Lives event. They were protesting gun violence and advocating for reform of gun control laws. Most of the leaders of this event were notably Marjory Stoneman Douglas students themselves. After the decision to build the Dakota Access Pipeline next to a current reservation, indigenous activists protested due to the threat it presented to water supply and its location on land sacred to the Dakota tribes. As a result, the International Indigenous Youth Council was formed.
Youth activism has had the ability to gain more notoriety and participation due to the growth in social media coverage. However, still, the vast majority of small scale local organizing gets little to no attention which at times make youth feel directionless or cynical when wanting to make a difference.
There are currently youth all over the country creating change in their own communities for a variety of causes.
Teen girls in New York City launched a campaign to distribute menstrual cups to over 200 schools during the pandemic to help support women in poverty and the environment.
High schoolers are fundraising in their areas to donate and deliver meals to homeless shelters.
Thousands of youth not even old enough to vote are registering as poll workers as well as canvassing in their neighborhoods to register others.
While these individual acts of giving back to the community may not make national headlines, they inspire a trend all over that can ultimately make a difference. Make sure to share the stories of young people making a difference in your community!