Life is a journey. My time at Access Local taught me many things but most important of all, it shows me ways to improve my life at every corner.
The young people will eventually inherit the politics of the world. According to the National Public Radio, the turnout rate of “Millennial” voters is among the lowest of all the current generations at only forty-six percent. In case you didn’t know, Millennials are young people currently between the age of twenty-two and thirty-five. To some, there appears to be a lack of confidence in the government from the young people. In fact, according to Harvard University, young people’s trust in the political process is now historically low.
One explanation for all of this could be that there is a lack of engagement in the political process when the person is a teenager. Many teens in the Sacramento City Unified School District do not know that the district is getting a new superintendent. While this could affect their life greatly, many do not know anything about it. Many do not know who the current superintendent is nor do they know the fact that the current superintendent, Jose Banda, stands to receive extra retirement money by spending time just a short amount of time here at SCUSD.
This lack of political engagement in local politics could be one of the reasons why young people are not engaged in politic as they should be. There were efforts in trying to get the youth of Sacramento to engage in the politics of the Sacramento school system. The Student Advisory Council of SCUSD held a youth town hall meeting for discussion of the selection of the new superintendent. Despite a total student turnout of less than thirty, there was a discussion between young people of how school politics should run.
“I want to make sure all that all this information will be involved in the interviewing process [for the new superintendent],” said Natalie Rosas, Student Board Member of SCUSD during a student town hall meeting. According to the Constitution, “We the people” are the one who grants the government their power. However, what happens when the people do not participate in their government?
This is an overview of the Youth Action Meeting that was held on March 23rd. The young people of Sacramento are encouraged to come to these meetings, and express their thoughts on how collaborative projects between adults and youth can improve.
There are thousands and thousands of students within the Sacramento Unified School District. Thousand of voice calling for different things- but how are they make sure they being heard?
Young people in California ages 16 and 17 now have the ability to pre-register to vote online. Previously, teens could only pre-register by filling out paperwork forms and mailing them in or by handing it into the county election office.
The process of pre-registering is very simple and can be done without the help of a parent or guardian. The questions that are required are likely general knowledge.
A signature is needed in order to complete the registration. The person registering may need to print out the form, sign it, and mail it in. However, if the person has a state ID or driver’s license, the Department of Motorized Vehicles will send in the signature from the ID or license.
But why does it matter that teens can now pre-register online?
91% of teenagers report using mobile devices to go online, while only 6.5% of teens are licensed drivers. Because teens have better accessibility to the internet, versus the ability to drive themselves to election offices or post offices, this hopefully will increase the amount of pre-registered voters, and thus represent the youth more in voting polls.
“I feel like (voting online is) going to be a much faster way of registering/voting,” said Katherine Alestra, a 14-year-old who wants to pre-register to vote. “You can go anywhere with WiFi and be able to do what you need to without the responsibility of going to a specific location.”
This will not make teens pre-register but will allow them to register easier if they wanted to. Hopefully, with easier pre-registration, they will be more inclined to vote by the time they are 18.
Many schools in the U.S today still enforce the zero tolerance policy. That means that a student’s first offense against many school policies will get an absolute punishment. The same thing could even be said with the law, after all, should be no second chance when a murder or robbery have been committed? But what if the crime is committed by an adolescent? Should the crime still be held to the strict standard it’s supposed to be for an adult?
The documentary film, They Call Us Monsters, by Ben Lear, challenges the traditional idea that if a child commits an adult crime, they should get tried in adult court and get an adult punishment. The movie follows three real-life juveniles who have signed up for a screenwriting class while in a detention center. They committed high-level crimes such as attempted murder and drug trafficking as teenagers. One of them was in the process of getting out through court and was successful. He was arrested two months later for robberies and is now currently awaiting trial. Another inmate was also in court, challenging the law to get a reduced sentence. However, his lawyer failed and he got a sentence of over a hundred of years. Due to a recent law passed in California, he was qualified to get a reduced sentence to 15 years since he was an adolescent when the crime was committed.
The question of whether a child should be treated like an adult when committing an adult crime is a question that many lawmakers and legislators have tried to answer. This movie presents the realities as it is. It shows the side of the inmate that is not seen from behind the bars and in the courtroom.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about this world I’d stumbled into,” said Ben Lear about his film. “The narrow space between a lost childhood and a stolen adulthood where these kids managed to live, laugh and discover their potential.” The film presents the reasons to why many youth turn to crime; it’s because they came from poverty stricken neighborhoods where gangs provide shelter and a false sense of security to young teens that are growing up. The inmates in this film even wrote a movie that reflected their own experience. Many politicians have a tough on crime policy because many voters don’t like the idea of “soft on crime”, but when it comes to a child who yet to have a fully developed brain, is it still fair to punish them for life?
Millennials are the primary users of social media but according to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, they are also the most afraid of how it affects them. Of the demographic, 48% report that they are afraid of how social media use affects their physical and mental health and 63% report feeling attached to their phone or tablet. Social media has taken over the world as we know it, but is it really for the better?
“Links to Law Enforcement” by La Familia is an event that will go from the 1st of March all the way to April 5th. It will be held at La Familia’s Maple Neighborhood Center which is on 37th Ave in Sacramento.
La Familia is an organization that provides multicultural counseling along with services of support for low-income and at-risk youth and their families in Sacramento. For over 40 years, has provided these services that are all completely free with a totally bilingual staff. Their mission is to improve the quality of youth and their families by providing these services and providing programs that aim to help families to become empowered and succeed.
The Links to Law Enforcement event is a six session event that empowers young people and encourages them to participate in all things law enforcement in Sacramento. This is in effort to have the youth participate to diversify the law enforcement including the California Highway patrol and local sheriff agencies.
This event is likely in response to the police department not being racially diverse as the communities they serve. In Sacramento, the police department is dominantly 72% white while the community is only 36% white. While the rest being 14% black, 25% latino, and 25% other.
“This event has been happening for a long time in Sacramento, and we’re very proud of it,” said Ramon Guitart with La Familia when asked about the event. “These programs, especially from La Familia, help out families and youth and their communities.”
For more information on this upcoming event and what they do please click here.
Sac City Council Hold Sacramento Teens Speak Up At Council Meeting For Youth Programs Meeting On Investment For Youth
“My name is Arabella Smith and I was saved by 916 Ink,” said a Sacramento teen named Arabella during a City Council meeting regarding the investment of youth programs.
Sacramento’s City Council, led by its Mayor, Darrell Steinberg, held a meeting to discuss the investment in youth and youth programs. In Sacramento, many organizations such as 916 Ink, Sol Collective, The California Endowment, the Boy & Girls Club and much more are working to make an impact on Sacramento’s youth.
The issue of this meeting was to push the city council to consider more investment into the many youth programs as mentioned above. It is believed by the issue’s supporters that a higher investment in youth programs can lead area children to a healthy, active, engaged, and ready-to-learn lifestyle.
The majority of city youth services are run through the City Department of Parks and Recreation, Also known as DPR. It runs around 26 different major youth services.
The policy considerations included increasing investment for the DPR’s youth-serving programs and working in collaboration with Sacramento’s school districts to create school-based beacon centers.
There are a good amount of studies that indicate that a stable and healthy early childhood learning environment improves student achievement. Governments can save more than $7 for every $1 spent on early learning instead of spending on student suspensions, being held back, or later getting involved in crime and going to prison.
Many youth and adults came to this meeting in hopes of getting more investment towards these programs and to supporting creating more youth programs to help youth development, mental health, and physical health
“A lot of kids who grow up in a poverty area don’t want to do bad things, it is caused by the help they get around them- which is basically nothing,” said a young teen, Tommy Lee, when speaking to Darrell Steinberg about his experiences while living in Oak park, one of many struggling communities in Sacramento.
Tommy was one of the many youth who attended this city council meeting. He spoke about the horrifying experiences of the sounds of police sirens in his neighborhoods and even not being able to go outside as a young child in caution of the problems facing the neighborhood.
“We must help our kids believe that they can do anything in life,” said another youth speaker named Noelle Alvarez. “Education means everything and not everyone can do it alone.”
Many speakers, including several teens, spoke about their experiences in low-income neighborhoods or living in a struggling situation. Many of them have had help from many youth development programs that they often say have helped them recover and move on from an unhealthy life.
“I know what it’s like to go down the wrong path and I don’t want the next generation to make the same mistakes I did,” said Alvarez as he ended his comments.
916 Ink, a non-profit organization, is seeking youth-written contributions as they work to compile a comic book about South Sacramento and its history. The comic book title is “How Did We Get Here?” and should contain 1-2 pages of the writer’s personal experience, or the experience of someone who has lived in South Sac. 916 Ink is paying $50 for narratives from youth, and the deadline is February 23rd. Entries need to be emailed along with release forms for youth.
916 Ink is a non-profit organization that establishes writing classes for children and teens. Their goal with this project is to compile a comic book about all the children’s and teen’s stories that they send in.
“We are collecting local narratives of how discriminatory land use, housing, and transportation policies and investments resulted in segregation, fewer opportunities for low-income communities and communities of color, and poorer health outcomes in specific neighborhoods.” Said Nikki, Cardoza, Director of Programming.
Entries are not limited to just personal experiences. People who want to enter can interview others about their experiences in South Sacramento as well as give their own. The entry can be about policies in South Sac that has affected them, the history of South Sac, and anything else that has shaped South Sacramento, and its people. Though the stories can be positive, they mainly want to focus on the adverse aspects of South Sacramento, focusing on policies that have discriminated against people.
“Each comic book will be published and distributed locally,” says Nikki Cardoza, Director of Programming from 916 Ink, “And then we hope that all 5 comics will eventually be combined into an anthology the shows how public policies throughout the last 100 years have created communities in different areas of California.”
The comic book may not contain all the stories they receive, but all who enter will get a $50 cash card. The deadline is due February 23rd, and the comic will be available to buy August of 2017.