The Not So Impossible Road to Becoming a Teen Activist
As far as teenagers go, we like to think that we are the average teen. We both have our own sports and extracurriculars, take advanced classes, and work hard to be successful in our education and athletics. Leaning towards the STEM side of things, our initial reaction to this RED Project in language arts was anything but a positive one. This project was designed to encourage us to pick an issue related to social justice, but whenever these projects arise we tend to feel that we lack tools to make our visions come true. It simply was never as easy as it seemed to be an activist in our community. As our research began, the difficulties seemed to increase as the logistics became more and more daunting.
We looked at different teen activists internationally and locally hoping to find an idea that was plausible to us. Almost everything seemed out of reach. However, inspiration struck and we were able to construct a plan from the very thing that we struggled with most. What seemed like an awful assignment quickly transformed into a newfound opportunity. It became a challenge between us and the world. We wanted to prove that as young adults we can positively contribute to society.
It became increasingly clear that teenagers aren’t expected to do much except play on their phones and do drugs. Most the volunteer sites and adults’ perception of teens don’t help either. The target audience of most volunteer websites consisted of adults ranging upwards of 25 or so. Most work had an age requirement of 18 or 21 which made it troublesome to find an opportunity that suited us. We struggled until we found a homeless shelter that was located nearby. Quickly setting up a date and time to volunteer, we were eager to make an impact regardless of its size.
We were capable; we were willing. These were the two things that society underestimates about adolescents the most. We wanted to do more than just help people. While it was immensely satisfying and an incredible experience, we wanted to also contradict the stereotypes that adults often believe. We had a bone to pick with the rest of the world and we were not going to let this opportunity fly by. Overall this was an immensely rewarding experience.
Not only did we get to have one-on-one communication with other volunteers but we got an opportunity to inspire others in our local and online community. We hope that by reading about our experience other young adults will be motivated to make an impact their world. As a generation, hopefully we can break the stereotype and change adults perceptions of adolescents. Even if we aren’t actually the average teens, we hope that this becomes the average. More than anything, we were able to take away that it is okay to challenge the world and that we can end up changing it in the process. Hopefully others can too.