The youth of today hear the message on repeat: take action, take action, take action. Now, as this tumultuous American social climate further interacts with our personal lives, it’s easy to feel as though we are observers of this change rather than active members. Yet we sense the gravity of our action, or lack thereof. We understand that “take action” is a vital outcry, but how do we begin?
The answers are oftentimes more clear than they seem. There are dozens of local organizations eager for youth advocates, so why do these resources feel so out of reach, even to the most passionate of our generation?
When searching for the answers to this question, we decided to ask fellow Central Catholic students. We asked six students some questions on whether or not they feel comfortable advocating for subjects they are passionate about and if they feel they have accessible resources to get involved with organizations outside of school.
Emma Ramsey, Junior
I’m driven by things I find interesting or if interesting people partake in something. Most often, time prevents me from action. Another thing is my own insecurities and thinking I won’t be good enough at the new thing I want to try. But this is a thing more on me rather than the things I want to participate in or the people involved. Something that drives me to advocate is the topic. I want to create a more kind world and will happily do anything to create that. But what prevents me from advocacy is one on one situations. I can’t go up to someone I don’t know or kind of know and say something about them changing their actions, but could do it in a way of asking them to support what I am trying to support. Or going against a group of people that don’t believe in the same things I do. Because I’m uncomfortable being the odd one out. I definitely feel like I have a strong sense of resources I could go to. I am very comfortable for standing in what I believe in. I will voice it but indirectly and in a more passive aggressive way.
Grace Rosebrook, Senior
It depends on the school setting that I’m voicing my opinion in. I am pretty comfortable voicing my opinion around most teachers, but there are exceptions and especially with pressure from the administration. It feels like they wouldn’t support me voicing my opinions. I do not think Central Catholic provides information on organizations outside of school that support my opinions.
Raina Masaoy, Freshman
Mostly, if I’m with a group that share the same views, then yes, I do feel comfortable standing up for issues I’m passionate about. Well like I know that most if not all teachers are accepting and actually care about individual people’s beliefs and values as a person and there’s always signs up of acceptance and stuff. I think I have the resources to get involved, we have availability to internet and ways to research things to get involved. I think judging by what I’ve experienced so far that the administration mostly does support my beliefs I participate in some diversity clubs at central and service when I have the chance/time. I know that teachers actually care about individual people’s beliefs and values as a person and I always see that rainbow triangle everywhere.
Kiora Ridgeway, Senior
I definitely feel like i’m comfortable talking about my opinions on issues i’m passionate about during school. At times it gets hard because a lot of the time, I’m one of the only people in my class who has gone through the experiences of being a person, specifically a woman of color. I feel like I do have the resources to be involved in these issues, especially through AASU. But honestly if it weren’t for the club, I would hardly be involved, in or out of school.
Anh Tran, Sophomore
Yes, I do feel comfortable advocating for issues because I know that there are others who may also feel passionate about the issues I’m passionate about. And I feel comfortable in that there are others who support me. I’m sure there are many many resources available but I don’t happen to know of any. At home though, I do have my own ways to research and resources I use. There are many classes that teach and educate about the important issues that are happening or have happened.
Brandon Bravo, Senior
The majority of time at Central Catholic, I do feel comfortable to stand up for issues I am passionate about, maybe such as inequality. But sometimes there are times where it may be inappropriate. I think I have the resources to get involved, we have availability to internet and ways to research things to get involved. I actually don’t think we have quite enough resources to learn more about important issues, or even voice our opinions, let alone even talking about worldwide controversy and incidents in the world and even in our own country.
In light of many students responses, we decided to link the websites of just a few great organizations and their information for volunteering. Getting involved with organizations is a great way to develop your passions and be an involved member of society. Aside from the organizations we linked, the midterm elections are happening soon, so get in contact with up and coming, or current, official that support your beliefs to help with their campaign.
Although finding resources may not be accessible to all students, we should all make an effort to be involved members of our community. This is not only fulfilling, but it is also a great way to do your service hours at places that you care about. According to the Central Catholic Student Handbook, “At graduation, the Central Catholic student: Expresses himself/herself freely and genuinely… Has experienced the benefits of the Central Catholic community and seeks to be a responsible and contributing member of society. Is sensitive to the marginalized in society and demonstrates compassion for victims of injustice. Exhibits leadership to make ethical decisions, use resources, and serve in light of social justice and Christian responsibility.”
The organizations below are just the beginning, and represent only a handful of the many operating with youth in Portland. Once you get started, use your empowered voice to reach out to others as well. Through this, we can gradually construct a culture of spirited advocacy within our community.
Written by Hailey O’Donnell ’18 and Julia Nicolls ’18