How Can Teens Make A Difference?
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Fresh Ink for Teens

How Can Teens Make A Difference?

With the upcoming election, many high school students are interested in getting involved, and just because you can't yet vote, doesn't mean your voice doesn't matter.

A  campaign volunteer talks to a local supporter. Getty Images
A campaign volunteer talks to a local supporter. Getty Images

High school students around the country are becoming more and more concerned with current issues and politics. What’s happening in the world affects teens, many of whom are motivated to generate change, but aren’t yet of voting age. If you can’t vote, it’s easy to feel helpless. However, there are many ways you can become involved and have a voice in your community and the country.

School Clubs

High schools have a variety of clubs and student-led organizations open to all students. Most schools have clubs dedicated towards making a change. Whether it’s taking action in your school and talking to your classmates about bullying or helping the Environmental Club plant some trees, being involved can make a difference. Joining clubs that are focused on issues that are especially relevant today, like your school’s GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance/Gender-Sexuality Alliance) or clubs focusing on the cultures of other countries, can help you and your classmates feel more accepted, and help teach others. If there’s an issue that you feel strongly about that isn’t represented in your school, talk to the administration and start your own!

Volunteer

Volunteer your time for causes you care about. Campaigning for local or national elections is a good way to contribute, even if you can’t vote. If politics isn’t your thing, you can help out at a local animal shelter, food bank, or your synagogue. It doesn’t have to be five hours a day, three times a week; even spending just an hour or two can be extremely helpful. Besides meeting requirements for the National Honors Society or other organizations, volunteering is a great way to meet new people and help your community.

Stay Informed

Staying informed about current issues and world affairs is arguably one of the most important things students can do. Knowing what’s going on in the world helps you form opinions, learn what causes are important to you and then, you can spread that knowledge to your friends! Make it a goal to read 10 minutes a day about what’s happening in the world around you, whether it’s about the latest in national affairs, politics or even science.

Contact Your Legislators

You don’t have to be 18 to send an email to your local congresspeople! Writing to or calling your senators can be a great way to get involved. In fact, the ACLU has an excellent set of tips for writing your elected representatives.

Get Involved in Local Politics

If there are meetings at your city hall or discussions at the library that interest you, sit in on them! Knowing what’s going on in your town can help you see how larger decisions are affecting your own community. It is also a great way to learn what your neighborhood needs from you.

There are lots of things you can do to get involved in politics and helping your community, even if you can’t vote. Many of these activities can help strengthen your political prowess and debate skills if you ever decide to go farther in legislative happenings and run for office.

Here’s What Some Cleveland, Ohio High School Are Doing In Their Communities:

I am on the Saltzman Youth Panel, which is a teen philanthropy board run though the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Through this I have participated in Super Sunday and will participate in other outreach/ activism programs in the Jewish community in Cleveland. I have also participated in some volunteer/community service through temple, along having a loose involvement in BBYO

-Maya Hollander, 16

“Through my temple I am very involved in activities relating to social action in the Jewish community and leadership in the temple community. One of the most significant social action efforts is the high holiday food drive we run though the temple youth group. In terms of leadership and volunteering I spend a lot of time helping at temple wide events, in the classroom, and during youth group programs.

-Eliana Sosin, 17

“For the past couple of years, I have worked as a madrich at the Temple Tifereth Israel. This role has me act as a teacher helper for Shabbaton and Sunday school classes. I really enjoy this role because I feel like I’m improving the Jewish learning of my students.

-Steven Fellinger, 15

There are many ways for teens to become involved in activism and politics. From joining school clubs to being involved in the politics of your community, it’s easy to help make a change until you can cast your ballot.

Orly Wolf is a sophomore at Orange High School in Pepper Pike, Ohio. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.

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