Youth Reflection: Megan McCall on Student Advocacy
“Acknowledging the problem is the first step.”
Meet Megan McCall, a college-bound youth tackling waste issues and community limitations in Garden Grove. Megan traveled with Mikva Challenge to Washington D.C. this past January to participate in a national Youth Summit as one of five Action Civics LA’s youth to win the 2016 American Soapbox Video Competition with her speech on education and student self-advocacy. Click here to learn more about American Soapbox Initiative.
My name is Megan McCall and I am a senior at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove. Throughout my high school career, I’ve developed an appreciation for civic education through my involvement in many volunteer-oriented clubs and classroom studies. This year, I’ve had the honor of taking Pacifica’s AP Civics and Honors Economics courses. One of the most important things I learned is that we all have the potential to make a positive difference in our community through selfless or democratic action. Earlier in the year, I joined a team of seniors in what our school calls the Community Action Project, advised by Mr. Wemmer and Ms. Devoy, to identify significant problems within our local community and create possible, long-lasting solutions. After a lot of thoughtful conversation we decided that our school could use a larger recycling program. Right now there are restrictions on a large school-wide recycling program and we want to prove that we can create a sustainable system that will benefit the school and the environment. We also want to call our fellow peers to participate in a greater cause while bringing awareness of wasteful habits on campus. We believe that implementing this program means that we are taking action against prevailing global waste issues and community limitations. We intend to put this program into action the first two weeks of May and we’re more than eager to see its impact on our school’s community and the global environment.
We expect to raise a sufficient amount of recycled items within the next two weeks as we start placing larger recycling bins around the school. We will be taking the collected items to a recycling plant to record the dollar amount received and the environmental impact made. We’ll use these records to address our school board and hopefully bring awareness for a policy change that will allow this expanded recycling program to continue. If everything goes as planned, we have a handful of community service organizations ready to continue the project in years to come.
Through CAPS and the Mikva Challenge, I also had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and present a speech on the lack of student self-advocacy in schools today. This topic is important to me because I believe that the development of students today is hindered by society’s association of vulnerability and unintelligence with those that seek help within the classroom. There are many changes we can make to reach out to students or provide them with different sources to seek help, but acknowledging the problem is the first step. While in D.C., I met many civically engaged students my age and gained more awareness of a range of issues, such as gang violence and racial discrimination, in communities across the states very similar to my own. I’ve come to understand that a community simply begins as a group of individuals that share a common interest and incentive to seek justice and improve the quality of life around them. Overall, Pacifica and the action civics skills I have gained have helped me learn that being active in my community, whether politically or non-politically, determines how I want to live my future and how I want to affect the future of those around me for the better.
Watch a clip from Megan’s Soapbox speech in Lafayette Square!