The Power of Youth Activism
On March 14th, CSA middle and elementary school students participated in the #NeverAgain National School Walkout. In the aftermath of the killing of 17 students and teachers in Parkland, FL., youth around the country marched out of their school buildings at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes. The demonstration sought to honor the victims of school shootings and advocate for politicians to pass stricter gun control laws.
With demonstrations in over 3,000 schools, the spirit of CSA’s march embodied the spirit of the broader movement: eloquent young voices, untouched by cynicism, dissatisfied with the current reality, who were advocating for a better future.
“We have grown up hearing about way too many mass-shootings,” one CSA student said. “It shouldn’t be like this. I don’t understand why this continues to happen but it needs to change.”
Youth activism has propelled many large-scale social justice movements throughout history. With organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee of the Civil Rights Movement to the National Union of South African Students of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, youth are often the driving force behind social change declaring, “it shouldn’t be like this, this needs to change.” This power is rooted in the fact that youth have not been fully socialized into problematic societal norms. Therefore, they are more likely to push back against socializing forces and imagine/demand a better reality.
Over the next decade and beyond, if we are to solve the many pressing issues of our time, we need to tap into the dynamism and imagination of young people, because they have the potential to disrupt inertia and be the most creative forces for societal progress.
This is why CSA seeks to develop students that not only successfully navigate society, but transform society. From writing letters to congressional representatives on passing DACA, to participating in the #NeverAgain march, to writing letters for congress to pass gun laws that protect children, we hope to foster civic consciousness.
As education scholar Brittany Beck states:
Whether we recognize it or not, children are spending years of their lives in schools internalizing educators’ values, our visions of what matters—and how they matter. Each day that teachers are silent about community issues in the classroom, children learn to be silent. Each day that teachers do not engage students as active civic agents, children learn to be passive subjects of laws they cannot yet vote to change. I ask elementary teachers: What life are you creating in your classroom? Does it empower your students to end community tragedy in all its forms? Or is it designed to fill out worksheets?