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5 Ways Youth Activism Has Already Made History This Year
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In 2018, young people refused the status quo. We rejected the notion that we did not know enough or possess the qualifications to make important decisions. We saw things that were unfair and resolved to change them. And like so many other generations of young people, we made that change happen. Here are five ways that youth activism has already made history this year.

1. March For Our Lives: 50 Gun Laws Passed in States Since Parkland Shooting

On February 14, a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead. Rather than allowing this cycle of violence to continue, the student survivors launched a massive youth-led movement for common sense gun safety reform. From The March For Our Lives and The National School Walkout (which was created by DoSomething member Lane Murdock) to activism in New Orleans, Chicago, and beyond, young people were so loud they can’t be ignored. Because of their activism, 50 new gun laws were passed. As Pew puts it, led by youth, this was “an unparalleled year of success for the gun safety movement.”

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2. The Youth Wave: Youth Voter Registration and Turnout Surges Around the Country

With the midterm election right around the corner, young people all around the country are using this time to stay informed and get involved before heading to the polls on November 6. A new study by TargetSmart shows an impressive uptick in voter registration rates of people between the ages of 18 and 29 -- a key demographic all around the nation! Not only are young people registering to vote at a higher rate, but they are also turning out at a notably higher level. Compared to 2014 primary elections, TargetSmart reports a 4 percent increase in youth voter turnout in 2018 primaries. Even better, youth turnout has almost doubled since 2014 in some battleground states. These statistics prove the surge we are seeing in youth voter participation isn’t just a momentary trend, but a lasting movement with the power to make significant change.

3. #MeToo: Change Beginning With This Generation

In 2006, Tarana Burke launched the #MeToo campaign to draw attention to the extent of sexual assault and harassment. Last year, actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted out asking people who had experienced sexual harassment to reply with #MeToo, amplifying Burke’s existing work and starting a national conversation about sexual misconduct and rape culture. With hundreds of violators ousted from positions of power for sexual assault harassment, the movement has grown to historic heights. As reported by HelloGiggles, in a nationwide survey of 18- to 25-year-olds, almost “two-thirds of the study’s participants said that the conversations inspired by #MeToo have made them consider the ways in which society enables dangerous sexist behaviors” and “over half of the young men who responded even admitted that #MeToo has forced them to confront their male privilege and the many ways in which the world is different for women.”

4. #YouthRiseUp: Young People Take a Stand for Climate Action

A changing climate will be most damaging to the people who will populate this planet 50 years from now, namely young people. Roughly 9 out of 10 young people, across political ideologies, understand that the climate is changing, the highest proportion of any age group. This year, millions of young people across the world stood up and continued to demand climate action from their governments. The case against the US federal government raised by 21 young people demanding climate action cleared major and historic hurdles. Across all seven continents, people marched for the climate with several of those protests led by young people from Nepal to California.

5. Mental Health Activism: Young People Shine the Spotlight on Mental Health

Stigma around mental health has been an issue for centuries and because young people are disproportionately affected by mental health issues, it’s been incredibly inspiring to see our generation take action to reduce that stigma. Young people from across the country leveraged technology, whether it be private social media accounts or developing new apps, to create spaces to counsel and work together to overcome mental health issues. Celebrities like Lili Reinhart were courageous enough to openly discuss mental health in front of millions of people. In her acceptance speech for the H&M Conscious Award, she stated, “So few influencers were actually willing to talk about their flaws and that’s an idea that I wanted to challenge and that’s when I realized how important it was to stay authentically myself: imperfect but still powerful.”

DoSomething.org is the largest not-for-profit exclusively for young people and social change. Our digital platform is activating 6 million young people (and counting!) to create offline impact in every US area code and in 131 countries.

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