Photo credit: Mayor Eric Garcetti flickr
Fairfax Senior High School

The importance of youth in neighborhood councils

This weekend I got the amazing opportunity to give a speech in front of 850-plus Neighborhood Council Participants, city officials such as council members Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas. It was such an honor to know that they all really do care about the importance of youth in Neighborhood Councils. I believe it’s important to share my speech and experience with others. Enjoy!


Good morning!

Let me open this morning by getting to the point:

There is no age too young to get involved in your community. I repeat. No. age. too. young. .  I was told…. “if you want self esteem, do esteemable acts.  That is exactly what happened to me at Civic Youth, at Mayor’s Youth Council and by joining the Board of my Neighborhood Council, I learned the value of doing esteemable acts.

My name is Lily Larsen, I’m 17 and I’ve been an activist since I was 5. It’s true. My mom took me to the Million Man March of 2005 and I’ve never turned back.

In kindergarten, when we had to think of words that matched the alphabet,  when we got to X, my word was: Xenophobia. My teacher didn’t believe I knew what it meant. I did. I learned it at the Million Man March.

Fast forward to 10th grade. Among the many civic programs in our city, I was delighted to join the EmpowerLA Civic Youth Leadership Academy! We meet right here in this room. Here is where I got hands-on experience generating community events:  such as “Clean Ups” around the city. Here is where I saw my ideas and others’ being taken seriously and put into action. That feels amazing. “Making a difference” is no longer is a theory to me.  This is a place where you can truly  “Be the Change.”

If you are a teen in this audience, and you have a rebellious spirit, what better way to channel it– then become a youth activist, a civic leader, a community organizer?  It’s the perfect solution to teen angst. Trust me. I have plenty of angst! But honestly, it was by doing this work, that I found my passion. So I started my own movement called Adolescent Activist.

I urge you. Get involved the in the world around you.  I hear people say “youth are the future.” I disagree. Youth are the now. And there is no time to wait around till we’re 18.  Be the change now. Get your voices and ideas out there:

Adults in power need our minds, our lack of cynicism, our fearlessness– our forward thinking input — they best listen– or they’re going to keep getting the same thing they always get which is change at a snail’s pace.

There is no waiting around. I encourage all youth to join their Neighborhood Council. Join Civic Youth, Join anything that’s mission is to serve.

Let’s come together and make change for the highest good of our neighborhoods, our city, our state, our country and our planet. Thank you.