“You’re too young”
“You wouldn’t understand”
“The adults are talking”
“This isn’t a conversation for kids”
These are common messages that are being told to youth, even in today’s society. Youth are so often put down for their hopes and ideas. Instead of preaching about why this shouldn’t be so, a few young participants asked about what they are passionate about, and why they feel the voice of youth is so significant.
Q: What is one global issue that is important to you? Why are you passionate about this?
A: I think that race, religion, and gender or sexuality are the most important issues right now. People are just people and it’s important that we see them as such. Especially with what is happening now, we see just how much this has an impact in our world.
Q: What do you feel is something you could do, or something you want to do, to help this issue?
A: I think that it’s important to spread awareness, and social media is a very good tool for that. If you can’t attend a peaceful protest, or some type of parade and/or demonstration, then you can send emails to government officials and sign protests online. Also, if you are able to donate to some charities or organizations, do it!
Q: Amazing ideas! Finally, why do you think it’s important for youth to be given a voice?
A: Sometimes youth have the most important views, since they will soon be adults. It’s important to empower youth so they can achieve the tools and expertise to be successful in the future.
Q: As a youth, have you ever felt not heard, or neglected in conversations, discussions, etc?
A: Yes, by all kinds of people, but especially adults, even when you’re [MKS4] providing a valid opinion.
Q: Why do you want your voice to be heard? How does it make you feel when you aren’t being listened to for your opinions or ideas?
A: I think that as kids, there are times where what we say is probably dumb or inconsequential in the big picture, but we still do say and think a lot of things that are not only important, but can also affect the future that we will be living in. When people ignore that, it's played off as us being the irresponsible ones, yet what we are exactly trying to do is take responsibility for ourselves and our futures. When people disregard us because we're young, it demotivates us from trying to make changes, and it hurts our feelings.
Q: Is there anything that you’re passionate about that you want to get out into the world?
A: I want to become a better person. My biggest goal in life is to be able to say 'I did it', and it's actually really hard. I think that applies to most kids- we want to be the best people we can, but it's so difficult for us. While every little thing feels like a big accomplishment, to others it's meaningless. I hope that I can be proud of myself, but also acknowledge and make others feel proud of themselves. I think all people should strive for that.
Q: What is something you are passionate about? Why are you passionate about this?
A: Something I am passionate about is leadership and representing others with my voice. Leadership has a special place in my heart because I feel that many students, children, and even adults, have the fear of not being able to voice their opinions to the world. I have and still am struggling with this. I know how it feels to be scared of judgement, be ridiculed, and to feel unheard. It makes me happy to see that I have helped in some way.
Q: As a youth, have you ever felt voiceless or overlooked?
A: Definitely. Adults tend to underestimate our young minds and believe that our thoughts and ideas are not fully developed because we are not "mature". For me, reaching out to people through any social media platform as a youth has especially been difficult.
Q: Why do you feel that youth voices are so significant? What do you feel we and society can do to encourage young voices?
A: In some ways, adults are correct: kids' minds are very different from adults' minds. This is why youth voices are important. They offer new perspectives on long-standing issues, or new problems people may have not even considered[MKS5] . The youth's imagination can also offer more creative ways to deal with existing problems. I feel that society can encourage youth voices by normalizing it. This can be having the government highlight more youth voices or creating more buzz about existing youth organizations.
Hearing from these youth voices was incredibly empowering. To see how each took such a unique and meaningful approach to the questions further fueled by belief in our generation. In a technical sense, youth are the future, and this message has been enforced constantly, but this goes to show how powerful youth are, and how bright our future is with all of these young and strong voices. It is the young, the supposed ignorant, that are ever more aware.