Mourning Loss, Illuminating Youth Voice

never againWeeks after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, our hearts still mourn the innocent victims of this tragedy and empathize with a community starting the delicate process of healing and coping. While we are reminded that the pressures, anxiety and stress facing today’s youth are monumental, something truly notable is the strength of youth voice illuminated in the students of Parkland. Youth emerging from challenging situations to drive positive change in their community is powerful and why NOYS along with many of its partners exist, to make teens part of the solution.

“Once someone knows, especially a young person, that their voice MATTERS, what they can do is incredible”, a profound statement made by Hana Mangat, 17, during her presentation at the 2017 NOYS annual coalition meeting at the National Association of Broadcasters Headquarters in Washington, DC. Hana, similarly inspired after a tragic shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012, started Sikh Kid 2 Kid, a non-profit organization focused on cultural competency with a signature “teacher training” that she brought before the school board and ultimately was sponsored by the state of Maryland. Truly notable, remarkable and inspirational.

As the national conversation is heightened on school safety and mental health, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School quickly demonstrated their unwillingness to stay silent and ability to rally support. On March 24, 2018, these students have planned to march in Washington, DC. The March for Our Lives protest has scheduled events in nearly every US State and at least 10 countries. The students behind March for Our Lives formed the group #NEVERAGAIN with over 136,000 followers on Twitter since it was formed weeks ago.

As we all find ways to support the Parkland community, lets take a moment to acknowledge the power of youth who know their voice matters. Youth who have a safe outlet through programs, peer-networks, clubs and next-level leadership opportunities like internships, trainings and advisory roles that illuminate their voice. NOYS is a unique coalition of over 100 nonprofit organizations, industry leaders and federal agencies using the power of a collective to promote youth safety, empowerment and leadership. Please consider supporting and sharing the resources provided by these incredible organizations:

Written by April Rai, CEO, National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS)