Youth Profile in Action

Over the past nine months, I have been working with a coalition of young people and youth serving organizations from across the country to create a Presidential Youth Council that would give young people a more prominent voice in our government. According to a poll released this spring by the Harvard Institute of Politics, only 29 percent of young people believe they have a say in what the government does.

Young people are capable of articulating their needs and improving their communities. They have proven this time and time again, whether it be with the 400 youth councils in cities across the United States or the amazing volunteer projects young people undertake every day. However, young people are not being given a chance in Washington where there is no structure to facilitate active youth participation in government.

Youth are our future; they should have an equal stake at the policy table. It is today’s young people who will inherit the 16 trillion dollar deficit, a nuclear-armed Iran, and a polluted environment. These problems belong to youth even more than adults, as we will be ones searching for solutions to these ongoing problems. Due to this unfortunate inheritance, youth must be stakeholders in the policies that will shape the future of this country. 

Even if youth do not have any magical and instantaneous solutions, they can at least be educated about the issues. And, when it becomes their time to lead, our young people will understand the problems we face today. They will understand the balance between financial regulation and business promotion and the complexities of our education system. Most importantly, they will appreciate public service and know what it is like to participate in the decision making process.

Engaging young people can only start if government officials change the way they operate. Officials must establish youth advisory councils, appoint youth advisors, and change their thinking to incorporate youth in the important decisions that shape the future of our nation.

The importance of motivating our youth to create change for hopes of a better future is the primary reason why we launched the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council – to help policy makers understand the importance of engaging young people and provide them with a model to do it. 

We have received generous support from multiple Congressional leaders such as Congressman John Larson (D-CT), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and fourth ranking democrat in the House, who kicked off our legislative efforts this summer in the house with his congressional youth cabinet introducing a similar resolution that has been co-sponsored by Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) and others.

These members of Congress join a coalition of 100 organizations and thousands of youth in support of the Presidential Youth Council. The White House Council for Community Solutions added their voice recommending to President Obama last June that he create such a council. Although we have gained plenty of ground, we are not there yet.

We have the opportunity for our generation to gain, not only a seat at the table, but the all-important opportunity to have our voices heard. In order to make this dream a reality, we need your help. Write to your members of Congress today and join young people across the country in saying our generation wants a seat at the table and a voice in our future.