Youth Community Action

by Vaishnav Kuruvanka
January 3, 2021

As youth, when we are made aware of issues like police injustice, climate change, misinformation and more, many of us turn to social media to voice our opinions. As a result, we see thousands of 10 second stories on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat that advocate for change and disperse valuable information. The question is are these posts the extent of our influence? This segment is about why we as youth need to dream bigger and get our hands dirty.

Social media has emerged as an effective tool to drive change, most notably starting in 2011 with Arab Spring. These platforms have now become an essential part of almost all fledgling social movements, with the extent of their use revolving around raising awareness and improving community buy- in. Although this is an important first step, I argue that posting is far from enough. For us to move the needle on challenges like climate change, income inequality, and education reform we must act beyond the comfort of our social media platforms. We must observe and understand how these issues play out in our communities and take the first steps to making change on a local level.

I have come to understand that if we as youth don’t actively shape our society’s future, someone else will shape it for us. Fortunately, youth are gifted with bountiful energy, bold visions for how things should be, enthusiasm for change, and most importantly, an affinity for action. We must channel these qualities towards gaining an understanding of issues we are passionate about and relentlessly dedicating our able bodies and minds towards improving the status quo, one person and step at a time. However, for us to bring our ambitious ideas to fruition on a large-scale, we must know how to accomplish them on a small scale.

A big part of this is gaining confidence in our ability to affect change. The simplest way to gain this confidence is to put ourselves in a position to make a difference. Go work at a local food bank or tutor at a middle school and it will become clear that your actions can create positive change. You will gain confidence knowing that your two hands, legs, and mind are capable of changing your surroundings for the better. From this point, it becomes about aspiring to create deeper change on larger scales.

My philosophy is that we learn the most when we try to solve the issues we are passionate about. We learn when we sit down with people and listen to their lived experiences and what they want changed. We learn by questioning why things are not better than the way they are. We learn by striving to make ourselves useful contributors to our society. For us to design innovative solutions to generational challenges, we must implement innovative solutions in our communities today. We must gain confidence in our ability to change the lives of a few, so we can one day change the lives of many. We must make our communities the focus of our attention today, so we can make our nation the focus of tomorrow. Let us act beyond reposting on social media. Let us build a more equitable, innovative future, starting in our own backyards.