Engaging and Empowering Teens

At our April meeting, P4C members Joanna Spathis and Kerri Kennedy joined us to share action items from their book, Wake, Rise, Resist: The Progressive Teen’s Guide to Fighting Tyrants and A*holes.

Joanna and Kerri wrote the book as an onramp to activism, with 128 actions – tiny, big, easy, hard, offering something for everyone – to help teens grow into their interests and their activism. They have graciously shared these Cheat Sheets for teen activists and their parents.

We’re inspired and thankful for the 15 teens who joined us and shared their insight. Their activism includes: organizing their schools’ 20 minute walk-out; volunteering with Congressman Danny Davis and Illinois State Rep Deb Conroy; participating in Moms Demand Action; joining school clubs like Empower (women’s rights), Future Diplomats, Young Politicians, Amnesty International; forming a Students Demand Action chapter at York High School; and much more. Here are a few of their thoughtful comments:

“We are creating authentic progress and equality. We are meeting people who are like-minded, progressive, sort of progressive, more moderate, and learning what connects us so we can build on it. History has shown us the tide is turning left.” – Ethan

“Thanks to Progressives for Change for being the wind beneath our wings in all of this. This is a great time for us to be in our activism, and we’re just grateful for parents and people who support us.” – Cambria

“In Social Studies, (another student) and I would speak up the most often. We knew there was a silent majority who supported us but were too afraid to speak up. There were one or two people who were so obnoxiously loud and would say, ‘Shut up and let me speak to the man in charge of you.’ We need to know there are other people behind us supporting us. And we know these experiences are making us stronger.” – Clare

“So many people are wondering why we are so interested in politics. They tell us ‘You can’t even vote. What difference can you make?’ They turn it into a negative because we don’t have any power at the ballot box. But we can lobby our congressmen. We are the future. We are the people who will eventually vote.” - Ethan

“I hear ‘How is this going to benefit you?’ But you put yourself out there for criticism. I can deal with it, but if you don’t have the support of the student population … I can’t imagine.” - Maddy

“Now more than ever is a great time to be a student activist. People are listening to us now more than ever before. And there are so many outlets, student organizations, opportunities to go about your activism and to support it. We are at a great point in history.” – girl

“People like to challenge us on the very specifics of an argument, especially on gun reform. All I know is that all these guns are not worth any of these childrens’ lives.” - Bella

“We get brushed off a lot. We get a lot of backlash. Stumble carefully through it.” - Ava

We encourage you to review the Cheat Sheets and even purchase the book (available on Amazon) to read with your teen activist(s). Thank you to P4C members Grace & Mike Clear and Joanna & Kerri, who collectively donated and raffled 10 copies of Wake, Rise, Resist for our teen participants. And, watch for future posts from our Teen Instagram-ers!