Youth activism has always been a driving force for change. Recognizing this passion, many cause-based organizations want to harness the insights and opinions of young people and give them the tools to promote their cause. If your organization is looking to cultivate and encourage youth activists, here are five things to consider:
- Don’t be afraid to start young. I became a young activist in second grade when I learned about whales on the brink of extinction through one of my National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Ranger Rick magazines. I created a school petition supported by hundreds of letters of protest and concern. Like the NWF, many cause-based organizations are intent on getting youth involved in activism at a young age. Partnering with the EPA, LMD developed educational materials for students to teach them about water conservation and how to set examples in their own homes. The EPA’s fun, educational game encourages water-saving behavior.
- Expect to be in it for the long haul. The most effective youth activism campaigns are usually the long-term ones because they communicate a persistent and consistent message. The Truth Initiative, a fact-based campaign started in 1990 aiming to eliminate teen use of nicotine products, is a great example of an effective long-running campaign. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health estimated that over 300,000 youth and young adults annually refrained from smoking because of the campaign.
- Make them partners. LMD worked with the Prince George’s County Health Department to create the “I’m In This For Me” anti-drug campaign, which included the “Give Drugs a Bad Rap” music contest. Prince George’s County youth created songs about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, helping to drive the campaign’s message. No one understands the pressures of youth more than youth themselves, and the winning song emphasized the importance of staying true to yourself and your commitment to staying drug-free.
- Encourage dialogue. According to Refuel Agency, teens are more likely than adults to have frequent conversations about social causes with friends both in-person and through social media channels. Caused-based organizations can take advantage of these conversations by encouraging youth to have open conversations about social issues with their friends and families.
- Get creative. When LMD developed an anti-littering and anti-dumping campaign for Prince George’s County, we knew we wanted something eye-catching that would appeal to young people. Our personified litter and reusable products characters tell a story that is informative and fun. As a result, our campaign is showing positive results with all ages.
If your organization is looking to engage youth, reach out to LMD.