In wake of the February 14th mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we have seen the youth of this country rise up and act more democratically and more diplomatically than most politicians currently holding office.
They have self-organized and are demanding concrete change. They have planned walk-outs and marches and have successfully debated seasoned politicians at both local and federal levels.
Some people are under the impression that this rise in youth activism is a new phenomenon. It is not. When given the chance to foster their sense of agency and use their voices, youth have had a profound impact on the world around them. Youth are not our future. They are our present. They are not passive beings waiting to grow up and take charge. They are stepping up NOW. They are leaders NOW. The future is NOW.
As a society we need to do a better job of fostering youth’s sense of agency and autonomy. We must stop assuming young people of this world know very little. Instead, let us give them the platform they deserve to voice their opinions have their ideas heard. There are examples of young leaders all over the world.
Do not view these young leaders as anomalies. View them as examples, not only for young individuals to aspire to become, but also for adults to learn from. When we view youth as stakeholders in the community and give them a seat the table, look at what can be accomplished!
Even when youth are not given the representation they deserve, they will find a way to make their voices heard. People can fight them all they want, but this generation of youth is not backing down.
Stop stifling the voices of our youth. Stop not taking youth seriously. Stop getting angry at THEM, and start getting angry at the fact that it has even come to this point where they have to fight for lives.
It’s time to make a decision as a society. Are we going to stand up for our children and their rights, or are we going to stand in their way? I propose we stand behind them and let them lead.
Let us as a community show the youth of Rochester that we have their backs. Join them this Saturday on March 24 at 10:00 a.m. at the Peace Plaza for the “March for Our Lives” event.
Youth of Rochester, you are not only tomorrow’s leaders. You are the leaders of TODAY. We stand behind you because we trust you to lead the way.