Creating Change: An Experience With Youth Activism


Courtesy of PeriodtPower Instagram. The account has since amassed almost 200 followers.

Misha Hashemi, Writer

  Many times we, as young people, witness injustice—whether it be on social media, T.V., or firsthand—and feel powerless. If we aren’t technically adults yet, we can’t make lasting change, right?

   Wrong. A prime example of youth activism and the impact it can generate is Greta Thunberg’s work regarding climate change. Greta is a teenage environmental activist from Sweden. At a mere 16 years old, she was nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her work has attracted international attention and inspired many other students to follow in her footsteps. She’s founded Fridays for Future, a movement in which students take Fridays off from school to strike for the climate.

   Inspired, I recently attended the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) Advocacy Institute at UCLA. It was a four day, three-night program in which approximately 200 high school students learned about advocacy and organizing, community-based issues, and youth activism. Through this program, I met a group of like-minded individuals who were interested in gender equity and reproductive rights. We created Periodt Power, a movement to aid in the dismemberment of period poverty, which is the lack of access to menstrual sanitary products.

   Through the institute, I attended organizer training sessions, elective issue workshops, action committees, and networking sessions. The program made me feel as if my concerns were finally being listened to. By the end, I was compelled to make change and breakthrough my feelings of powerlessness. 

   But why does student activism even matter? Amanda Peck (12), one of the founding members of Riot for the Climate at West, says, “As an environmental activist and student, I believe it’s important that the youth get involved in activism for things they care about. Activism is the first step to change, and as youth, it is our responsibility to ensure our own futures. Many of the politicians creating laws and legislation for our future today will most likely not be around when we are adults. So it’s in our hands to see that our future is one that we deserve and one that we are willing to fight for.”

   Natsuki Yamaguchi (12), thinks student activism is important because, “when young people like us strive for change, it raises awareness to other people.” 

   So remember, when you are living in a society that believes that children should be seen and not heard: prove them wrong.