Throughout history, young people have found places on the frontlines of history’s social movements, specifically those pertaining to civil rights. The 21st century is no exception. One local student group doing the work in the community is the Student Advisory Council.
Sacramento City Unified School District Student Board Member, Olivia Ang-Olson explained, “The Student Advisory Council is a group of youth who represent the students of the Sacramento City Unified School District. We come from different schools, and together, we work to amplify the voices of SCUSD youth. We work on group initiatives to benefit students – education and wellness.”
These SCUSD students work tirelessly on a variety of campaigns to improve equity and quality of education for their peers. Ang-Olson continued, “This past year the SAC began work on two projects: a sex-ed evaluation and a care-closet. The sex-ed evaluation aimed to gather student input on the efficacy of sex-ed instruction in school, and the care-closet team surveyed students on the need for donated clothing at school sites.”
Members of the SCUSD Student Advisory Council have done a great deal of work in their community and they continue to adapt to work with and for local students. Olivia continued, “Recently, the SAC hosted a virtual discussion/healing space for high schoolers to talk about police brutality and the impacts on themselves as students. The event, hosted over Zoom, brought youth representation from not only Sacramento, but across California and the Nation: Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Marin, Alameda, Los Angeles, Arizona, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Students facilitated conversations around police violence, systemic racism, ideas for self-care and wellness, and goals for local/state/national changes.”
Youth engagement in social justice movements is not only important because of the role young people play in shaping the future, but also the unique qualities they can provide the movement with. Ang-Olson explained “Youth bring energy to social movements. We are not bogged down by the obstacles set to prevent change; we are emboldened by the injustices we’ve seen, and we are empowered by our unwavering determination to create a better world. With fresh perspectives, youth bring creativity and ingenuity in solutions where others could not. We have faith in activism and the possibility for change.”
There are so many ways that young people can engage in movements and take part in history. Ang-Olson concluded, “If you are unable to attend protests, especially with the health concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are other ways for youth peers to participate. Sign petitions – add your name to the millions demanding justice. Donate – contribute a donation to bail funds, policy reform organizations, victim memorial funds, Black LGBTQ organizations, and countless others (just look it up).”
“You can also reform the community around you; have conversations with your friends and your family; prompt discussions with individuals unaware of institutionalized racism; direct fellow community members to informative articles. Additionally, everyone can contact their elected representatives and public officials. Email you representatives; speak during a City Council or School Board public comment; to improve our communities we must hold people accountable, so voice your opinion and provide your input to the officials making the decisions.”