Election Day is here and over with. This was, by far, one of the most important elections of our lifetime and our privilege and freedom to vote as American citizens gives us a unique opportunity to use our voices for good.
At LEAP Foundation DC, we have one mission – to bridge the gap between hope and achievement. One of the ways we do that is by providing a stage for disadvantaged and underprivileged youth to have their voices heard. But when it comes to voting, we are no longer needed to provide that platform. As parents, caregivers and mentors, we all have a responsibility to prepare today’s youth for the path to adulthood and when that day arrives, it is important that they are prepared to exercise every single right and freedom we are afford in this country.
So, whether you found the election results to be favorable or whether you shared the collective disappointment of your political party, this is not the time to sit in silence. While voting may be over, there are still plenty of ways to become involved in creating the change this country most needs. Whether you are moved to act on issues of racial justice, women’s rights, taxes, gun control, healthcare or the economy, and despite whether you are of the legal age to vote, GET INVOLVED. Because before you know it, you’ll be 18. Before you know it, it will be another election year. Before you know it, another black American will be killed at the hands of law enforcement. Before you know it, taxes could rise, your second amendment rights could be on the chopping block and your healthcare options could disappear.
So, yes, the elections may be over, but now is not the time to become silenced. Get proactive, gather support, research, learn, expand, but never stop fighting for what you believe. Here are a few things you can be doing beyond exercising (or preparing to exercise) your right to vote:
If you are a student – check your resources. If politics interest you, take a class about it. Commit to learning about the history of this great nation so that you know where we’ve been, how we got there and where we’re headed.
Get involved – there are countless ways to do your part. If you’re in school, sign up for a club that supports causes that mean something to you. At any age, becoming a volunteer allows you to have an in-depth look at your community’s current situation and get hands-on in creating change.
Petition – Creating or signing a petition allows one small voice to become amplified. We’ve all seen online petitions on places like Change.org or We the People that draw attention to issues that we may have otherwise not known about, but that nudge us to advocate. Use these platforms to raise awareness of these important topics and get your voice heard.
Stay informed – One of the most important things anyone can do before any big election, but also in the time leading up to one, is to know what is happening in the community. Get to know the positions of the candidates and engage in meaningful conversations about various issues. Doing so will undoubtedly enrich the voting process.
Plan to volunteer with your local polling location – Students and adults who are interested in being a part of this worthy cause can sign up to help with things like registration, ballot distribution, keeping lines organized, cleaning voting materials and overall just helping the process run smoothly. But it helps to start early. Become engaged in training and do your part to be prepared.
Don’t be afraid to contact your local or state representative. If something is being debated in your community or state that you feel strongly about, write a letter, place a phone call, send an email or tag on social media. Change starts with you, at any age.
Use your talents as tools for civic engagement. We all have skills and talents that make us unique. Have a way with words? Write an editorial for a local newspaper or send a Letter to the Editor expressing your opinion. If you’re an artist, consider creating a website and selling one-of-a-kind artwork as a fundraiser to support causes you believe in. Volunteer your time as a musician or fill a position on the board of a local nonprofit.