By Jesse Anderson – I know that your mind is bursting with brilliance; filled with ideas that could change the world. But, if you keep those ideas to yourself and don’t act on them, the world suffers. Silence amplifies the sounds of our problems. Youth represent the promise, the light, and the hope for our future. It’s time to get to work, and I’m going to tell you how.
First, you start with an idea. How is your idea uniquely equipped to solve our problems? What are the logistical concerns (not always fun to think about, but important to consider)? Why are you passionate about this topic? A good idea might take you far, but passion is what helps you cross the finish line.
Next, you make your personal game plan. What’s the timeline for your project? I personally love flow-charts, but I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Make a plan for success, but be prepared to make changes as you go. Next, consider the following questions: Who do you need to contact? Who do you partner with? How can you spread your influence through grassroot efforts? Make sure that your goals are achievable, manageable, and specific.
Now it’s time to turn your ideas into action. Networking is critical – in this fast-paced world, it’s about who you know, not always what you know. Research organizations, influencers, and networks that might be able to help you with your idea. Contact smaller departments within organizations that you find from your research and work your way up to the influencers. Persistence is vital, and getting a few nos doesn’t mean that the yeses will never come. When you’re turned down, take that as an opportunity to thoughtfully consider whether your organization or idea has drawbacks or areas of improvement. Recognizing shortcomings, no matter how slight, will ultimately make your idea more powerful and effective. Criticism is often far more important than praise.
Not ready to act on your idea? I completely understand – being a teenager is harder than people make it out to be. But, there are still a number of ways to get involved.
Our world has been left in tatters by previous generations, and we’re the only ones to fix it.
We, as teenagers, have been bestowed with the power of technology. The countless platforms at our fingertips allow us to reach millions of people across the world. With this in mind, it’s the ideal place to start an activism page and help others get involved. Before you start your activism page, you need to think about what you want it to be about. Are you going to cover all issues, or focus primarily on one? Are you going to speak about multiple issues, or include more calls to action? A mixture of both discussion of follow-up actions often helps your activism page stand out and reach more people. How often are you going to post? Are you going to be more neutral and factually-based, or more subjective? These questions are important to ask yourself when starting your network.
If you’re not super media-savvy, you can volunteer. Find organizations combatting the issues that you’re interested in, and inquire about volunteering through their contact pages. Find a political campaign to volunteer with and really see what goes on behind the scenes. Call your representative frequently, and get others to do the same. When visiting with my representative, she told me that if she gets a mere 10 calls a day about an issue, she’ll look into it. The power is in what you do with your voice, not in what you think.
The world is in great hands because of youth leaders like you. Even if you feel like you’re not a leader, you are. Everyone is. You have the power to change the world – whether that be by creating a social media platform to speak candidly about issues facing our world, creating your own organization dedicated to solving our most pressing problems, or simply raising your voice and marching until you feel like you can’t walk anymore.
You are the change. You are the power. You are the future leaders of the world. If anyone tells you differently, they’re wrong.
What You Should Know About Jesse
17-year-old Jesse Anderson is the founder and CEO of the award-winning News for Young Advocates Today (NYAtoday), a by youth, for youth news site that aims to engage, excite, and educate youth about issues in the political sphere, and works to involve teens in politics and activism.
Jesse is currently creating a global non-profit that gives comprehensive sexual education to women in countries with high rates of domestic violence.
Her unwavering passion toward ending injustice remains at the “center of her identity.”