Why the Youth Should Speak Up
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How could I, an ordinary teenager in the early stages of high school, have a voice in society? I mean, no one is willing to listen to a child with opinions on global issues. That is the job of adults, people who have experience and know what they are doing. This was my thought process before I was exposed to UNICEF. When I founded a UNICEF Club at my school, I struggled mightily to help it find its place within the competitive environment. I expected to remain as President and Founder until I graduated, but to do nothing more than raise money and maybe educate my peers on the varying issues surrounding the globe. In its first year, that is exactly what we did.
Despite the odds being against the club, I knew that my passions lay with helping those in need. Even though I was a member of the youth, I knew that I wanted my voice to be heard. So I kept at it. People laughed at me. People told me to stop trying. People told me that helping others was a waste of time. None of that affected my pursuit. Another year passed by, and the club grew to include more active members. It became one of the most prominent clubs in the school, and the strategy we implemented was modeled by others. What is that strategy, you may ask? It’s quite simple. The club members and I walked from classroom to classroom, and presented on important issues and campaigns. For example, we presented on the water crises during the month of March, and told every student that their voice and work was important to the campaign. This gave students the confidence they needed. It told them that their voice really did matter. In short, the promotion of youth unity worked.
On an individual level, my involvement within UNICEF grew. I wrote letters and tweeted to Congressmen as a member of the Houston Congressional Action Team. Additionally, I was selected to be a member on the 2017-18 National Council, where I currently serve as a spokesperson for the youth, work to improve the clubs’ program, and serve as one of two Community Builders.
This article is not meant to be an autobiography. Rather, it is meant to show how vital the youth voice is in today’s society and how people are truly willing to listen if one simply displays their courage. We are the world’s today. We are the world’s tomorrow. What we do tomorrow will most certainly change the way the world runs, but what we do today can also change the way the world runs. One does not, and should not, set a start date for action. Action should not be taken after one enters high school, college, or the real world. That simply places limitations on oneself in a world that runs by the second. In every moment, there is something that is happening. Someone is being trafficked. Someone is dying because they don’t have clean water or proper immunization.
We have the power of media and adults that are willing to listen if it means that the world will be a better place on our side. Posts and hashtags on social media spread like wildfire, especially if it involves a united cause. It provides a platform for the youth to speak up on issues that they feel passionate about. What was seen on social media after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was the youth using their power. They voiced their opinions and action was taken by adults in power.
I believe that there is an idea that is popular among the youth that there is a battle between us and the adults in the world. That is simply untrue. After attending the 2018 UNICEF USA Annual Student Summit, heard speeches from adults, and spoke to adults, my belief in the unity that adults have with the youth grew stronger. Whether it be a discussion with a board member, the CEO of UNICEF USA, an employee from Facebook, or any other adult, my opinions were valued and heard.
The youth should speak up because they can. Use social media. Use email. Use phone calls. Use your voice. Change is in your hands, but only if you’re willing to commit to it.