By Emmy Adams
My name is Emmy Adams. I am an activist, a tree hugger, a fire-breathing feminist and a big fan of democracy. I have helped start four non-profits, have spoken at rallies in front of hundreds of people, held enough protest signs to have pretty good biceps, and have helped register dozens of people to vote. Now I’m doing everything in my power to get those people, and hopefully many others, to the polls this Election Day, by helping launch The Proxy Project.
I am 18 years old.
My generation has the capacity to do what those before us have not: work together to be the change we wish to see.
We have grown up in the midst of mass shootings, natural disasters caused by climate change, the refugee crisis and gender inequality. We refuse to be numb and to be silent because we are “too young” to understand politics and the way our country works. In fact, our age is our super-power. It allows us to see things as we think they should be, not just accept them for what they are.
We refuse to accept the notion that “voting doesn’t make a difference.” That is why we created The Proxy Project, where you find someone who CAN vote, and make sure they DO.
It’s a new initiative driven by young people to engage skeptical eligible voters to realize the importance of their vote. The Proxy Project harnesses the energy of my generation to wake up anyone who is asleep at the wheel of democracy.
We do this by this creating 1:1 teams of someone who can vote (a “Proxy”) and someone who can’t vote (an “Activator”). Whether they’re a Dreamer or someone who can’t get an I.D., or is too young to vote, the Activator empowers the Proxy to go out and vote to make both of their voices heard. This creates a sense of accountability that has been proven to increase voter turnout. The idea is: “I can’t vote, but you can and I’m going to make sure you do because I’m counting on you.”
While efforts to increase voter registration are amazing and so important, if people don’t actually show up to the polls then it doesn’t count. That’s why The Proxy Project is necessary, it creates the sense of accountability and responsibility that is lost among infrequent voters.
No more excuses of “I can’t vote so I can’t make a difference.” Find someone who CAN vote and make sure they DO.
More about me…
I am currently taking a gap year to travel and volunteer, and plan to go to school to become a teacher for kids with disabilities. I was born in New Zealand and have been moving back and forth between the US and New Zealand my whole life. I have been a changemaker for as long as I could speak. When I was just 6 years old, I had bake sales to raise money for my local animal shelter and had all the presents at my birthday parties donated to a local homeless shelter. At 10, I tied myself to a tree at my elementary school in New Zealand because they were going to cut it down.
Since my early years of civil disobedience, I have been involved in many different community projects and campaigns. At my high school I founded the Environment Club where we recycled, composted and implemented several other sustainable programs. My passion for environmental justice led me to become a Climate Reality leader with Al Gore’s The Climate Reality Project. I had the chance to meet him and learned firsthand how to make a difference in saving our planet.
I’ve also done a lot of work in inclusion for kids with disabilities. I have advocated on the local and state level for unified programs at high schools for kids with disabilities. My best friend, Grace Zitoli, had Down Syndrome and passed away last year. Her family and I started a non-profit in her memory called “The Gift of Grace” to advocate for kids with Down Syndrome. I have also done a lot of gun violence prevention work, growing up right by Columbine I have many family friends who are survivors or who lost loved ones in the shooting. After the Parkland shooting, I helped organize walkouts all across my school district and organized a huge rally with our entire school district. I also was on the founding team of the Jeffco Students Demand Action chapter, and on the anniversary of Columbine we flew 60 kids from Parkland, Florida to join Columbine survivors for a huge “Vote for Our Lives” rally.
I am so inspired to make a difference, because if not me, then who? If not now, then when? I live by the quote “leave every place better then how you found it” and that is what I intend to do with our world, leave it better than how I found it. I’ve faced many challenges in my life that have made me realize that life is precious and short, and so with every day not being a guarantee, I intend to spend each one trying to do what I can with what I have, to make the world a better place.