Generation Z – your generation – is speaking up and there’s been a massive rise in youth-led protests around the world.
While starting a movement may seem like a huge impossible feat, here are some simple ways you can engage in activism:
- Take the first step in making a difference by posting the issues you’re concerned about on social media. A powerful image such as an emaciated polar bear can make someone else become aware of an urgent issue like climate change, for example. You can even create an account dedicated to that cause.
- Conduct a survey and share the results with your friends and classmates. Awareness surveys are especially useful if you want to find out about other people’s attitude towards and beliefs in a topic.
- Do your part by living according to what you believe in. For example, if you're passionate about fighting climate change, make changes to your lifestyle such as walking or taking public transport to school, recycling old clothes and shopping at second-hand stores, or eating less meat. Lead by example and your friends might follow!
- Join a school club that supports what you believe in, for example, a green group, a club for social justice or one that advocates disability rights. Many of these clubs offer activities with different levels of involvement, so you can take part in whatever you feel most comfortable with, or have time for.
- Apply for internships in companies, such as non-profit organisations, that are related to your interests. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about an issue from professionals, present your ideas and connect with people in the industry. It can even help turn your passion for social causes into a career.
To help inspire you further, here are three youth-led groups of activists who are making a difference:
Never Again MSD
The student-led US organisation Never Again MSD first started on social media using the hashtag #NeverAgain. It is a movement for the survivors of the February 14 shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in the state of Florida. It was formed in February 2018 by MSD student Cameron Kasky and his classmates, days after the shooting, and one of its goals is to advocate for stricter background checks for gun buyers.
Frustrated by the lack of action taken by the government and lawmakers, they decided to take gun violence prevention into their own hands. The students were joined by others from their school, and they organised March for Our Lives, a nationwide protest last March to demand action against gun violence. In response, the Florida Legislature passed a bill in March 2018, raising the minimum age for buying firearms from 18 to 21, established stricter background checks, and provided a programme for the hiring of school police.
Thailand Education Revolution Alliance
Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who goes by the nickname Frank, started a group called the Thailand Education Revolution Alliance in 2013. Together with like-minded friends, he called for educational reform, democracy and free speech in Thailand.
Though the country has a history of student activism, including the 1973 Thai popular uprising, these movements are removed from history textbooks. This inspired Netiwit and his friends to start a press in which they publish students’ writings and translate foreign books so that students can take charge of their own education.
Last Friday, about 1,000 Hong Kong students marched to Legco to urge the government to take action on climate change. They, and thousands of other students around the world, had been inspired by #FridaysforFuture, also known as School Strike for Climate, a movement that was started last August by Greta Thunberg.
Last year, the 16-year-old Swede started protesting against the lack of action taken to fight the climate crisis by skipping school. School strikes were due to take place in more than 100 countries on Friday. It’s time the adults listen.