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Thousands of American Youth Advocate for Change

At the end of each semester, young American students that participate in Generation Citizen's 10 week curriculum present their action projects on issues affecting their community at Civics Day to community leaders and local officials. Thousands of American youth presented their issue projects across six U.S. states: California, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas throughout the month of May.

Students in New York City shared their research on and actions they took to reduce gun violence in their communities, stop bullying in their schools, and increase mental health support and awareness in prisons, among many other topics.

One of the NYC Civics Day's highlights was hearing from NYC Council Member Ritchie Torres', whose remarks inspired and energized attendees. Councilman Torres underscored the importance of voting, particularly for young people. He noted, "If you want a seat at the table, if you want to take ownership of your life and your community, you have not only a right but a responsibility to vote. Voting is not only how you get a seat at the table but how you hold your elected officials accountable."

You can check out his full speech at Torres goes on to note that there's more to democracy than voting. "If you consider all the great struggles of human rights in history, they all have a common theme: civic engagement." He emphasized the importance of being seeing oneself as part of a polis and in a polis, the quality of one's life and the qualities of one's citizenship are bound together. He encourages us to continue the American tradition of civic leadership and reminds us that civic leadership has no age, complexion, class, gender, or profession and that it is available to all of us.

"All of us strive to lead a good life and what it means to lead a good life is to leave a legacy and the question you need to ask yourself is what legacy will you leave behind, what impact will you have in repairing our broken world and improving lives around you? What will you be remembered for? For me what defines American greatness is to repair what is broken and to correct what is unjust... So let's roll up our sleeves and get to work."

To learn more about Civics Day, check out this video:

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