Young people sharing their views on UK aid at Parliament

Five trends in today’s youth activism

Want to know what you can learn from today’s youth activism?

Here are five key trends from the global youth climate movement and March for our Lives.

Young activist involved in these movements are real heroes. We want them to succeed and we want to support them. We love them so much, because they are everyday heroes. Their stories match Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, where an unlikely hero in a broken world goes on an adventure to confront that evil world, they face challenges along the way, but in the end, they are triumphant.

They excel at telling their hero stories using videos and portrait series. Rather than just having one hero, they are inviting others to join them. They inspire us to be better versions of ourselves and so we become our own heroes.

 

2. They are the best advocates and they are not afraid to say it how it is

March for our Lives have pushed through reforms at state level and young people all over Europe have pushed climate change to the top of the agenda. They are succeeding because of the power of youth, where other movements that didn’t harness that power failed. Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez and other young advocates are putting leaders on the spot and driving up the pressure. They are brilliant speech writers and public speakers, but their power lies in their honesty. They are deeply passionate, speak from the heart and speak a truth that is hard to ignore.

school girl speaks passionately holding microphone

Students from across the UK sharing their vision for UK aid in Parliament

3. They are super creative and love DIY

They come up with the most creative placards and they love creating their own things. They love coming together a day before a strike and making their own placards and banners. These are shared widely online and make these movements more authentic.

Youth activism - Young campaigners protesting against climate change

Images from the global youth climate strike

4. They are the organisers

March for our Lives spread from Parkland to 700 marches in 37 countries. Similarly, Greta started striking by herself in front of the Swedish Parliament, then a few friends joined, and Fridays for Futures quickly spread, with a reported 1.8 million students striking in 132 countries. Their actions are decided and run by young people, but they receive training, a platform and logistical support from organisations like Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth and the UK Youth Climate Coalition. The movement is also evolving by asking adults: their teachers, parents and others to strike in solidarity with them.

5. Local t
o Global

Both movements take action at a local and global level. March for our Lives is making change on a state by state basis. Fridays for Futures focuses on both local and global action. They loosely coordinate massive global strikes to show the power of their growing movement worldwide, but they do so with local strikes in over 2000 towns. They use local wins to push for national change and eventually hopefully international action.

There was also a hive of youth activity during the climate rebellion last April in the UK organised by Extinction Rebellion Youth. Young rebels spoke to their local councils, blocked Piccadilly Circus, visited Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency office armed with plants and flowers and wrote letters to Dianne Abbott.

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