Adapted from The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change by Barbara A. Lewis.
According to a recent study, teens are more civically engaged than ever before. Share this list with the teens in your life to help them take action this summer on the issues they care about most.
- Research issues affecting people in your area.
Maybe you know of a group or an individual being discriminated against or denied legal rights based on race, gender, creed, or orientation. Local media outlets, online forums, newspapers, and libraries are all good places to look for information. If you live in the United States, teens can get involved with their local American Civil Liberties Union affiliate.
- Raise awareness about injustices.
Let people in your area know about human rights issues at home and around the world. Set up a demonstration in a plaza (first check with local administrators and police to make sure that you do this safely and legally) or boycott local businesses that don’t support equal opportunity. Or plan to work with teachers when school starts to organize a student assembly.
- Promote the safety and care of elders.
Elder abuse is a local problem as well as a global issue. One way to support elders’ care is to volunteer at a local senior center and ask how you might help. Also, learn how to become an advocate for elders by visiting the website of the National Center on Elder Abuse.
- Survey your peers on teen issues.
Talk to other teens at your school, club, or place of worship. Do they believe it’s right that juveniles may be put to death for crimes? Do they think that communities should or should not have a curfew for young people? Work with teachers and other community leaders to organize local support for initiatives important to teens.
- Hold a benefit dinner for a human rights cause.
Choose a human rights cause you care about and hold a fund-raising dinner at your school, place of worship, or another local setting. Advertise your cause and inform people of how their contributions will be spent. Arrange for entertainment, games, and other attractions to ensure your event draws as many people as possible.
- Work toward an accessible community.
Survey your community to see how accessible it is to people who have special needs. Examine public buildings, private shops, and your own school. If you see something that needs improvement, write a letter calling for action and send it to the building’s owner, your community newspaper, or a local government leader.
- Speak out against sexual abuse.
Rape and dating violence are on the rise among teens. Many victims are too afraid to report it. Do your part to address these issues. Start a school-wide campaign to raise awareness of sexual assault. Or visit the RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) website for more ideas.
- Walk the walk for human rights.
Many organizations address human rights concerns. Make a difference in the effort against injustice and raise funds for one of these groups. Complete a long walk, run, bike ride, or kayak trip in exchange for donations. Ask family members, friends, and neighbors for pledges of financial support.
- Address the needs of young people.
In every country, some children go without the basic necessities called for in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. You can make a difference starting at home. Contact child-focused charities and organizations, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, to find out how you can help fill needs in your community.
For more ideas on ways teens can take local—and global—action on issues, check out The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change by Barbara A. Lewis.
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