Lila Jordan, Inspire Leader from Colorado, chose to organize a youth forum for her senior project. Read her results here.
My name is Lila Jordan, and this past year I was a senior at DSST Cole High School. At Cole, every senior has to complete a senior project in order to graduate; I wanted mine to focus on a real-world issue where I could potentially create change for the better within our generation. Through working with Inspire Colorado I've learned how important voting and using one's voice is, so I wanted to find a way to motivate my peers to engage in civic duty around them.
After asking Donalyn for her help, I determined that a good way to demonstrate this message to my classmates would be to hold a youth forum and invite politicians to come to speak about why the youth voice is important. So, I created a list of politicians I would potentially like to attend the forum, and received responses from the majority of them. My goal was to have approximately 4-5 politicians attend the forum, and I succeeded: Leslie Herod, House Representative from District 8; Eric Parrie, a representative for Mike Johnston's campaign for governor of Colorado; District Director Tom Kelly; and Andrew Bourne, campaign manager for Brad Levin, would all attend.
Then, Donalyn and I began to actually plan and execute the forum. We decided to hold a panel with a goal of having 15-20 students attend, where I would begin by asking a few questions to open the forum and then students would be able to inquire about how they could get involved and learn about what impact their voices have on politician's decisions. We met our goal for the number of students attending, and hearing some of the questions was exceptionally interesting - a few that stuck out to me were:
Considering that our generation is the largest voting bloc by age, how much importance do you place on the opinions of young people?
How do you currently, or how can you, be sure that young people have a seat at the table regarding politics?
I've often found it hard for my voice/opinion to be heard by certain politicians - how can I change that?
Hearing the panelist's responses to these questions was incredibly inspiring because they emphasized the fact that young people's voices do make an impact, especially because of the size of our generation and the passion behind our voices. My favorite response was hearing Representative Leslie Herod say that the best way to change a politician's negative impact was to vote them out of office!
Overall, my goal of the forum was to inspire people to participate in civic action and fight for issues they are passionate about. I think it's incredibly important to get involved in the community around you, and speaking directly to legislatures is a great way to start!
So, I encourage all of you to get out there and make your voices heard!