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Making a difference with student activism

Fountain Valley High School students gather to protest for gun reform in the 2018 March for our Lives movement. (Photo by John Le)

From protests for civil rights in the 1960s to a 2018 national school walkout to oppose gun violence, numerous youth-led protests and demonstrations have shown that students are an integral part of making a difference in their community.

Although teens participating in political and social advocacy is important, there’s still plenty of stigma against this. One of the more common responses to when a teenager has a political opinion is that they are too young to have one. Some adults don’t tend to believe that much change can be made from a group of young students, and that youth activism is more of a misguided attempt to seem informed.

The most recent example of youth activism was in response to climate change. Two weeks ago, students all across Europe skipped school to gather in public parks and areas to voice their concerns. The movement surpassed that of just the European Union, and young people of Britain followed soon after, wielding signs and chants calling for their government to take a bigger step to help their environmental impact.

Fountain Valley High School students gather to protest for gun reform in the 2018 March for our Lives movement. (Photo by John Le)

In 2018, students across the country left school in the “March for our Lives” movement, in response to the Parkland, Florida massacre, where a former student opened fire and killed 17 classmates. Schools and districts of teens and young adults gathered to protest the lack of action over gun violence, especially when it comes to American schools. Even Fountain Valley High School got in on the action.

The point is that, throughout history, the constant issues that run rampant, then and now, aren’t unnoticed by the youth. These issues are constantly pushed and displayed in the media, so it’s not a surprise to see that young people have formed their own opinions about it.

Plenty of teen activists are notable for using their voice to broadcast their concerns to make a difference. Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Parkland massacre, helped to organize the Walk for our Lives demonstration, and went on to further protest and discuss actions for American gun reform. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish political activist, advocated for working against climate change and is the face of the school strikes across the European Union.

Student activism is not a new trend — teens and students in the 1960s hosted sit-ins, strikes, and walkouts, spawning countless other revolutions across the country to help fight for their civil rights.

Today, plenty of political and social issues remain prevalent in our world, making it so much more important that teenagers have an opportunity to fight for what they believe is right. The youth have their right to use their voice to make a difference in their community. No matter how big or small this voice may be, it serves as an affirmation that young people have the opportunity to find hope for a better future.

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