An Engaging Experience I Will Never Forget
Every year, Mikva Challenges convenes youth to share their ongoing community change work and projects through the Action Civics Showcase. Student reporter, Macuil, shares her experience on how the LA Showcase contributes to positive youth culture and builds strong youth leaders in Los Angeles.
As an adolescent I did not expect or dream of ever having the opportunity of attending an event organized by a group like Action Civics CA because my community has a small amount of resources available for their students. Thus, the experience was truly eye-opening to the realities that other teenagers of my age also experienced. On April 11, 2019 I found myself surrounded by 100 other students from different schools at LA City Hall as we played icebreaker games and found connections between our ourselves. Not only did Action Civics CA help encourage my fellow peers and I to express the concerns that we believe are affecting our communities, but allowed us to share with each other our ways in which we can combat these issues. All of the presentations and all of the schools that participated took action towards improving their situation and were genuinely passionate about their cause and their agreed upon strategy that would help.
Communicating with each other about what they discovered after conducting research and collecting personal experiences was often a practice among the presenters. For example, there was a project on gang violence, which the presenters shared as a serious issue within their community. They expressed their tiredness of not having a safe environment to live in and rather having become accustomed to their way of living being normalized. Similarly, gang violence increases alcohol, drugs, and weapons exposure. Having instilled these negative factors from a young age, many people have found themselves losing their ability to realize that there are other ways of living. Their campaign, Not On My Block, created a website and instagram account, @engagementcivic, to bring awareness towards the violence that is always being ignored.
The Action Civics Showcase created a sense and an atmosphere of self-worth, which made everyone understand that coming from under-resourced and under-represented communities does not mean that we do not have a voice that can be exercise in order to bring about changes. I remember this as it was just yesterday, my classmate Judith, being utterly surprised that she was able to analyze and understand the issues affecting our communities, which was quite amazing as she rarely feels empowered. Judith later commented that it was inspiring to be an active member in the Los Angeles County. I find it rewarding that not only do students have this sense of realization but also community partners, who are adults members that also participated in the event, can observe the effects of youth involvement. An individual named Jason, from the non-profit organization Facing History and Ourselves, stated that by just taking time to listen to youth’s perspectives he recognized that young people have the ability to see issues that adults take for granted and how they plan to address and correct them.
Action Civics CA promotes community activism among young people because they increase our confidence in believing that we have the power to spark change. Therefore, the voice of the youth and their participation in local-decision making process helps bring solutions for their community problems. This program creates a path in which an individual can speak out, advocate, research, collaborate, and showcase that our skills can be of aid now and in the future. This practice will prepare teens in utilizing their power to make a difference, especially when their generation takes charge of their civic and political structures. Action Civic CA helps the youth in becoming leaders of change as we become active members that strive for an equitable society participating in democratic activities.
“Democracy is a verb!” is the motto that this program stands by because they know that students can create plans and goals that will better their community, which leads to action.
Brenda Macuil is a 9th grader at the Humanitas Academy of Social Justice. She has a develop a love for writing throughout and much to talk about! Writing sometimes helps her to express herself in a way that other people can clearly understand.