There are a lot of things YOU can do to make a difference! Here’s a list of ways youth can change the world. Each one is linked to a page talking about how it happens and the tools you might need to get it done!
Ways You Can Change the World RIGHT NOW
1. TEACH OTHER PEOPLE
As you learn issues you care about, you’ll want to share you new knowledge and insight with others. Remember that people who want to know more may be more likely to learn from young people sometimes, including youth and adults.
- Form a Youth Action Council! Get a group of friends together, start meeting and decide what you’re going to deal with, then take action.
- Become an informed, empower activist! Once you decide what matters most to you, start rallying to make a difference.
- Lead programs in your neighborhood! Don’t wait for adults to invite you – start a program for younger children or seniors in your neighborhood.
- Advise an adult! Find an adult in your life who is doing something to make the world a better place, and ask them if they need a youth advisor.
- When you know what matters to you, stand up for it as an advocate as much as possible, and stand up against injustice.
- Use your skills as an artist to share youth voice and share what you believe in, or what you stand against.
- Call a local nonprofit or government agency focusing on an issue you’re passionate about and volunteer to serve on their Board of Directors.
- Make smart, informed decisions as a consumer every time you spend your money or make an economic decision!
- Get engaged in your own life and throughout your community as an empowered decision maker. Learn what affects you, how you can change it, and take action!
- Design buildings, curriculum, programs and other activities in your community, and share your designs with anyone who will listen!
- Develop your mindset and build the business of your dreams. Don’t wait for adult permission to provide positive services or products to your community today!
- Evaluate and assess the activities, programs, services, businesses and other places that you interact with and are served by everyday.
- Learn the basics and become a facilitator of learning, teambuilding, community groups and more!
- Your are more than an eater – you can grow your own food! Get engaged as a micro scale, self-sufficent farmer or grow enough to feed your family and community.
- Choose a topic, find a space, promote it among your friends and host a youth forum to gather young peoples’ opinions about what matters most!
- Connecting with a foundation or raising money to donate to your favorite charity, get engaged as a youth grant-maker who helps others succeed!
- Learning and building your influence and the influence of other youth, get engaged as a youth lobbyist in your local, state, provincial or federal government!
- Are you a natural builders, inventor or innovator? Use your powers as a makers and Producer to change the world! Produce a product to lift yourself and others.
- Make the media, including websites, newspapers and videos, that influence your friends, adults and younger people everyday. Tell stories that matter to YOU!
- Learning how to stand up for justice, youth as mediators are stopping violence, standing against harsh punishments, and empowering other youth.
- Instead of having a one-sided relationship, youth are joining adults in mutual mentorships with adults and younger people designed to make a difference.
- Organizing your neighborhood, family and other youth as a community organizer can allow you to change the world in powerful ways.
- Learning about curriculum development, creating a teen program, hiring org staff, and other activities allow youth as planners to change the world!
- Engaging youth as policy-makers helps policymakers and others stay relevant and connected, boosting democracy and fostering hopefulness.
- Creating opportunities for youth as politicians requires young people to be interested. Show elected officials and others that you care and want a serious role!
- Youth as recruiters can help youth-serving and community building organizations grow, sustain, and build their human capital in countless ways.
- When you make real research and study topics in-depth, you can be a researcher for social change! Research helps decision-makers make better choices.
- Finding the issue YOU know best and learning all about it can help you become a topic specialist. You can train others and inform the ways lots of people do things.
- Youth summits allow young people to share youth voice on the issues that matter most. You and a group of friends can put a youth summit together!
- After you’ve learned the issues and actions, you can be a teacher who teachers other youth, younger people and adults how to change the world, too.
- Facilitating learning about specific skills and knowledge can let youth as trainers change the world.
- As volunteers, youth can move organizations and programs to accept other youth volunteers and younger people, too. You can contribute to improving communities.
- Whether or not you’re legally old enough, your vote matters. Learn about voting, about elections, about candidates and legislation, and let your voice be heard.
- Taking jobs that matter, you can change the world as a worker by standing for workers’ rights, against low wages and for work that matters.
36. ADVOCATE FOR LEGISLATION
Change comes about in a variety of ways and one of these is through legislative change. For example, the primary advocates for the DREAM Act have been young people known as the DREAMers, who have a personal investment in the issue. With your students, provide opportunities for them to learn about the history and impact of legislative change like the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Help them analyze proposed legislation in relation to their goals and assess the extent to which it will have an impact. They can study research that examines the extent to which legislation impacted injustice. Have students push for legislation by working with other groups with similar goals, building coalitions and writing letters to their legislators to advocate for specific local, state and federal laws.
37. RUN FOR OFFICE
Student government provides a chance for students to have a positive impact in their school and learn about how government works on a small scale. It gives youth the experience to reflect on and consolidate their own positions on important school issues, learn how to communicate those positions, build relationships with others and become a good listener in understanding constituent (i.e. other students) needs. It is also good practice for the future in getting involved in politics. Elected positions are not the only way to get involved; students can also become involved in groups like the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), peer training or other task forces that are working to improve their school.
Marching in the streets enables students to express themselves while meeting and connecting with other people who feel passionate about the same issues. Demonstrations and protests can be uplifting and empowering and can help students feel like they are part of a larger movement. In preparing to attend a demonstration or protest, have students consider what their goals are in attending the event and think through what message they want to convey. They can create posters, prepare songs or chants and practice symbolism that conveys their thoughts and feelings. They should consider whether they want to go individually or organize a group of students from their school to go together, make transportation arrangements and ensure that safety concerns are addressed.
39. CREATE A PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN THAT INCLUDES SOCIAL MEDIA
There are many ways to develop or participate in a public awareness campaign Educating people about an issue in order to inspire change can take place in school, in the community and online. Creating signs and posters using art and photography can be very effective as can videos and live speeches; these are all useful skills that young people can learn. In recent years, the use of social media to raise public awareness has been largely driven by young people and is a useful vehicle for raising issues and effecting change. The use of blogs, social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, videos, memes and online petitions are just a few examples of how words travel fast online and can incite quick and effective action.
40. DO A SURVEY ABOUT THE ISSUE AND SHARE THE RESULTS
Understanding what people think and why is helpful in bringing about social change. Students can learn more about public opinions on issues by participating in surveys themselves and also reading about them. They can also create their own surveys. Using paper surveys or online surveys, students can gain insight into how other students in their school or the larger community feel about an issue. This is useful in organizing others and addressing their concerns and needs; at the same time it builds math, critical thinking and interpersonal skills.
41. RAISE MONEY
Raising money is a concrete way for students to contribute to community or national efforts to address injustice. From organizing a bake sale around a local issue to fundraising on a larger scale for a national concern like racial disparities in the criminal justice system, raising money helps students feel like they are part of something bigger and backs the cause. Fundraisers can include selling items, auctions, entertainment, sponsoring events and more.
42. WRITE A LETTER TO A COMPANY
Students can reach out to companies or organizations that they feel have done something unfair or biased. This is a small act but can be an important experience for them in making a difference. For example, if students want to change the ways toy companies use gender role stereotypes to package and sell their toys or games, have them write letters to toy or video game companies and explain why they think their practices are biased. In crafting a well-written letter with evidence and a clear statement of what needs to change, students learn useful skills in persuasion and at the same time, it has a made a difference.
43. ENGAGE IN COMMUNITY SERVICE
In addition to organizing and advocating on a large scale, students should be encouraged to engage in community service on issues they care about. For example, if they are concerned about the stereotypes and violence directed at homeless people, in addition to advocating for legislation or attending a demonstration, students can also donate their time to help out in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Serving the people who are directly impacted gives young people firsthand knowledge of the situation, deepens their understanding and builds empathy.
44. GET THE PRESS INVOLVED
Help students understand that bringing publicity to their issue amplifies the message, gets more people concerned and potentially has a greater impact. They can write a press release, do an interview, write an op-ed in their local paper or invite a reporter to see what they are doing and write something about it. This sharpens their own message and serves to bring that message to a larger group of people.