Youth activists change the world

Youth activists change the world

And they should be seen. And heard. And taken seriously.

Lots of people seem to dislike children today. There are restaurants and hotels banning them while people join “child-free” clubs and sport “My dog is smarter than your honor student!” bumper stickers on their vehicles. Given that all adults were once, after all, children themselves, this hatred is mind-boggling to me.

Perhaps such anti-child people would embrace our youth if they became aware of how amazing children are. Did you know that about 55 percent of America’s youth volunteer, compared with only 27 percent of adults? There are kids at every car wash, bake sale and canned food drive—because of their idealism, their commitment to their community, or for whatever other reasons—and while there’s often an adult or two to help move it along, youth are at the heart of changing the world. I have to wonder if any of the “child-free” club members have benefited from community gardens or building murals or garbage clean-ups or food drives that America’s youth organized.

When I was a child, my parents took us everywhere. We were often an afterthought, but we were always present and running around loudly with our cousins. Nobody ever scoffed, “Children should be seen and not heard!” to me, though the outdated sentiment seems to be more prevalent in our culture today than ever.

If anything, children should be heard often and by everyone. It is their world tomorrow that we are working so hard to improve today; do they not deserve a say in it? They are already not allowed to vote for leaders who think of their best interests as we are—why demand further voicelessness?