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Youth Advocacy Matters!

By YWCA Minneapolis
June 9, 2023
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Youth in Action is an activism and advocacy after-school program where high schoolers get paid to learn. It is one of the many programs YWCA Minneapolis Girls and Youth Department offers that supports youth in activating their leadership and community advocacy skills. This year’s cohort of students from all over the Twin Cities metro area has been meeting once a week since November to learn about various social issues impacting the community, connect with local organizers, community leaders, activists, artists and political figures to delve into various lenses of social justice topics.

Advocacy for whom, for what?

Students explored different types of activism through guest speakers, field trips and personal projects. They have examined an array of topics from history, ecosystem mapping, abolition, art and activism, sustainability within activism, disability justice, organizing in schools and workplaces, media literacy policy engagement, transformative justice, reproductive justice, the prison industrial complex, zine making as political education and environmental justice.

Minnesota State Capitol Tour

Youth in Action is further supported by our Girls and Youth coordinators, joined by our Racial Justice and Public Policy staff who serve as expert-level sponsors—to create and facilitate an engaging curriculum. Recently, they all participated in a trip to the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul.

Ending PUSHOUT Act Roundtable

Weekly guest speakers like abolitionist fiction writer & teaching artist Taiwana Shambley, City Councilmember Aisha Chughtai and most recently, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar spoke with students about Ending Punitive, Unfair, School-based Harm that is Overt and Unresponsive to Trauma (Ending PUSHOUT) Act. This legislation acknowledges the harmful ways Black and Brown girls are criminalized and overpoliced at school and invests in safe and nurturing school environments for all students, especially girls of color.

We applaud the work and advocacy Representative Omar does to push for eliminating racism and empowering women and girls.

Putting Pen to Paper

Other areas that students have identified as critical are school safety, mental health, free meals at school and school environments. These were all addressed in postcards and letters written to elected officials during the program. Participants in the program are in the process of completing final projects on advocacy topics of their choosing.

Youth advocacy matters. Cohort curriculum models are several ways to include young people in our decision-making for policy of all kinds.

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