Awesome young activists are setting new standards as future leaders – Marin Independent Journal


I have a dream that can come true. As more and more climate change activism programs involve adolescents, I imagine the near future in which many of these young advocates hold public office at local, state and national levels, or play an important role in political campaigns.

My dream also envisions more young women, leaders of the current movement, occupying public office.

I have recommendations on how we can help teens develop political skills and acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to increase their chances of holding public office or helping other candidates. While these suggestions apply to all students, my focus is on climate crisis activists. It is clearly an urgent need.

There are a number of programs and organizations in Marin where adolescents are actively working to support actions that will address the effects of climate change. Some adults work with these adolescents to teach them how to work effectively with the political system.

Many young activists are learning to organize themselves and to use social media effectively to promote this cause. It’s not sufficient. As many learn, they still face insurmountable obstacles at the congressional level. A key objective must be to shift the balance of power in Congress to ensure that effective action on climate change is taken.

Public speaking is a high priority. Anyone who has seen Amanda Gorman’s recitation of her groundbreaking poem “The Hill We Rise: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” must have been impressed by her public speaking skills. His intonations, timing and expressive use of his hands were a perfect demonstration of excellent public speaking.

For starters, every school should require public speaking training, at least one unit in an English or social studies course. Include watching excellent public speakers, perhaps starting with the Gorman reading. Each student should be expected to make a few short speeches followed by positive feedback. It is important to note that the issue of anxiety related to public speaking must be addressed. It has certainly been said that some people fear public speaking as much as death.

Most students will never run for public office. But all students will benefit from the skills to make them effective aides for the politicians they choose to work with in the future.

Closely related to this, being an effective debater is essential in political elections. Many English teachers already include debate in their curriculum, which is also a great way to teach critical thinking. Any program related to the climate crisis should include this.

Political diagnosis, including precinct analysis, is a critical skill that can be taught. It can start at the local level by learning to draw a power map to identify who has power in a community and to determine what will cause those individuals or institutions to change. This could include an analytical review of school board electoral policy.

Students should think globally but start by acting locally. They must be taught to diagnose the political makeup of the community. This includes knowing the dominant beliefs and values ​​of potential voters. It also includes doing some research before speaking to a particular community group and knowing how to “read” a play before engaging potential voters. Consider including a visit from a local political leader.

It is important to note that students must acquire networking skills to form political alliances. Social media is a skill for many students, but face-to-face meetings and phone calls, the old-fashioned approach, can be just as helpful.

Advising students on university programs focused on environmental activism should be another aspect of training young activists. This is a logical next step for climate change activists in high schools.

The main goal is to change the makeup of Congress so that bills designed to tackle climate change are passed and not blocked. These dedicated young people can help do it over the next two decades with the right training.


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