In the wake of yet another incident of school violence, we are seeing something incredible happening: students across the country are raising their voices and speaking out for gun control. I think it’s fair to say our country hasn’t really seen such a youth uprising for decades. These young folks taking to the streets is an inspiring sight, and it brings to the forefront the power of youthful passion. So, in honor of the kids whose voices now resonate across our land, let’s talk about why advocacy and students are such a powerful combination.
Academic connections: Advocacy ties right into school activities like debate, drama, and journalism. Also, think about the connections to history and politics classes, not to mention the use of current events to understand the world around us. Within the school, students have many outlets for spirited conversations about social issues. Taking a vested interest in a cause stretches far into a student’s academic experience and reaps countless benefits.
Global citizens: Advocacy and service create global citizens: young people who are well-versed in social trends across the globe. As they gain this far-reaching worldview, kids and teens become adept at discussion, discourse, and action. It’s important for young people to understand the greater culture, not just the one in their backyards, and advocacy goes a long way toward broadening that worldview.
Great for college, better for the future: Taking part in social issues looks great to colleges; it shows that you are interested, engaged, and passionate about the world around you. Better yet, it sets you up for an amazing future of using your powers for the betterment of society. Those students who understand issues and are not afraid to speak up will thrive in many different walks of life and careers.
Making connections: Joining groups that advocate for causes in which you believe is a natural way to expand your network. You will make contacts with people who share your passion and, most likely, find friends for life. You never know when those you’ve come in contact with may be integral in your life later down the road.
Seeing both sides: Taking a side, ironically, allows you to see the other side better, too. When you understand the other side, you become better informed and more able to share dialogue diplomatically and intelligently. Looking at both sides of an issue is a great skill to begin honing when you’re young.
Fostering creativity: Advocacy and creativity go hand in hand. In order to make a strong statement, you need to be flexible and inventive. Sometimes reaching people “across the aisle” is less about arguing and more about being creative and original.
Foundations for leadership: Looking at the some of the youths speaking at rallies and to their congressmen and women, I clearly see some of our future leaders. These young people, by taking the risk of standing up and speaking out, are absolutely setting themselves up to be informed and outspoken leaders later in life.
Youth has always been at the center of real social change. Students who advocate for causes are not only helping themselves to grow as people, but are also contributing to the greater good of society. Schools understand the importance of this, as some even host advocacy days. Students who take an interest in social issues become more academically invested, grow into global citizens, make connections and build their networks, and thrive through creativity and leadership.
Written by Phil Lane
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