By Giovanna Lucignano
“We are addressing youth today, because youth have placed themselves on the top of the agenda.”–Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon
Youth activism and engagement can bring about important social changes that are sometimes left behind. You don’t have to wait to be an adult to be an active member of your community. Your opinion matters and it should be heard. Here’s a list of ideas of how you can participate locally and globally:
1. Know your rights: You might not be able to vote yet, but all children and youth hold national and international rights. These rights are only of use to you if you are informed about them, so read up!
2. Learn about local issues: Is a roadblock affecting your commute to school? Are the new taxes affecting your family’s livelihood? Whatever the case, learning the issue will help in creating solutions that will have an impact on you.
3. Speak out: Speaking your mind online (through social media), and/or offline (at local meetings and gatherings) helps you assert yourself and your interests. Also, you never know who might be listening. Think before posting. Social media has a long memory and things can never truly be deleted.
4. Network: There are many inspiring youth like you around the world. Reach out to them. Learn about their efforts and initiatives, they might also work for you!
5. Spread the word: If elections are taking place, spread the word! Talk to friends and family about registering to vote. If there are important issues that are going unaddressed, become the person who addresses them (such as this young woman in Ireland). You are part of a community, and have the power to educate and influence those around you.
6. Join online campaigns: Is there an issue you are concerned about? Global campaigns are always happening. Find one that corresponds to your issue, join in, and implement the campaign locally.
7. Host a youth summit: Learn and share your perspectives and views with peers as well as decision-makers. Schools and local organizations can be of great support to you in trying to create a forum for the exchange of ideas. Bring together different communities and understand what you have in common, as well as your differences in interests and perspectives.
8. Use your creativity: Photography, arts and crafts, dance, theatre, sports, street art. Almost anything can be turned into an activist project. What are you good at? Translate it into civic activism!
Need inspiration? Here are some activist projects from Creative Visions (Creative Activists Network).
9. Join/create a youth organization: Local youth organizations are great places to expand your knowledge and become an active member of your society. If your community doesn’t have an organization representing youth, create one. Be the trendsetter!
10. Be an inspiration: Believe in yourself, and follow your passion. Passionate youth will change the world.
We all care about something, why not stand up for it?