This week, I welcome an amazing young woman, Avashini Singh. Avashini was one of the organizers of the city’s first youth-led mayoral debate. She is a student at Clara Barton High School.
People’s beliefs about youth are often derived from mere observations of young people, or through simple interactions with such individuals that do not tell the full picture about who we are. We have all done this — judged a book by its cover. We have all allowed a small sample to be the sole representative of the whole. So has a lawyer when meeting his future client; So has a teacher, newly acquainted with the class he or she is going to teach. So has a book purist who has stumbled upon the movie adaptation to his or her favorite novel. However, as the historically brilliant and humorously enlightening novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has taught us, first impressions can often times be wrong.
Youth, especially those today, are among the most misinterpreted populations. Society has a hard time moving beyond the cliché of youth as irresponsible or childish, and as a result, young people are too often stripped of our most basic and powerful tool: our voice. There are however, many young people that seek to push back against these clichés by relentlessly seek new ways to be heard. One such group of youth, in which I am participating, is the Youth-Led Mayoral Debate Group, coordinated by the Resilience Advocacy Project. This group, by engaging individuals who are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood in such an important aspect of their communities and society in general, is truly igniting our potential! We are the future, despite being repeatedly being misjudged based on clichéd beliefs attached to youth, and how can anyone judge our ability without first witnessing our aptitude?
It is vital for the development of the city’s youth – and the city as a whole- that youth participate in the upcoming mayoral election. Participating in such an event allows youth to strategically use our voice to positively influence our peers and surroundings. Through our participation, we are learning and developing key skills that will help prepare us for the adult world, and that will further eliminate the shadow of disengagement and irresponsibility cast on youth all over the country and even the world. On an equally important note, the youth participating in the Mayoral Debate Project are an active part of society and we have a true and unique understanding of the conflicts and concerns of our communities. This gives us something the average journalists lacks and must conduct research to find – true insight and first-person experience.
This mayoral debate project is important for two reasons. First it is important as a way for young adults to begin to eliminate common stereotypes that are constantly associated with us. By taking part in this process, not only are we gaining helpful skills that will help us to smoothly transition into adulthood, but we are also testing our abilities and demonstrating our capacity to lead. In using our voices to execute a positive, successful project, and by gathering together and presenting a unified front, we will hopefully help to establish a foundation for future youth to get involved!