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WHO WE ARE

We are the nation’s largest organization fighting for the rights of all young people.

The National Youth Rights Association, or NYRA (NYE-ruh), was formed in 1998 by a group of young people who wanted to challenge the age discrimination and prejudice they were experiencing. Realizing that ageism is similar to other forms of oppression, they started NYRA as a youth-led civil rights organization in the hope of emulating other successful rights organizations that have pushed us to a more just world. Meet the team that continues that work today:

Research

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Sebastian Barajas

Throughout his school career, Sebastian Barajas failed repeatedly to internalize several of the key prejudices—such as ageism—that are required learning for young people. A recent graduate with a degree in classics from St. John’s College, he has written extensively in favor of youth rights. During the summer of 2016, he completed an internship with Dr. Robert Epstein, author of Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence, during which he studied how “adultness” is related to age.

Outreach

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Shruthi Bharadwaj

Shruthi has always been passionate about social justice and human rights, and her involvement with a NYRA has enabled her to work to secure one of the most fundamental of human rights for herself as her peers: the right to a voice. For too long, young people have been excluded American political narrative and have been silenced in schools. Shruthi, as one among the American youth herself, is proud to be doing something about it.

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Jennifer Zhang

Jennifer is a high school student in Virginia looking to give youth more voice in politics. She gained interest in youth rights after witnessing the way that opinions of young people were often dismissed and overlooked, and is excited to work on correcting the ageism inherently embedded in society today.

Board of Directors

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Neil Bhateja

As an adolescent, Neil began developing an interest in the way society treats its youngest members. He realized that young people aren’t afforded rights that others consider basic, such as property ownership, freedom of movement, freedom from violence, and political representation. He recently worked on a ballot measure to lower the voting age to sixteen in San Francisco, through organizing, recruiting volunteers, and canvassing.

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Brian Conner

Brian’s interest in youth rights and self-directed education began his sophomore year of high school, when he saw several presentations on the student-led movements of the 60s. He started researching education reform, and came to the conclusion that the only way to create an education system that works for everyone is to give young people total control over their lives. He has led workshops on youth rights and given two TEDx talks: one on education reform and another on youth rights. He attends George Mason University and is starting a campaign to lower Virginia’s voting age to 16.

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Mahsiah Imes

Mahsiah, 17, is a devout youth rights activist, public speaker and youth minister. He believes that the freedom and liberty that is awarded to adults in the U.S. Constitution should apply to young people as well. While his involvement with NYRA started when he was in seventh grade, his passion for youth rights and speaking up for his fellow peers was always there. He is a native of New Jersey where he worked on lowering the voting age before moving to North Carolina. There he continues to work on lowering the voting age and increasing student rights at his high school.

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Alex Koroknay-Palicz

As a high school senior, Alex successfully led a campaign to change age discriminatory policies in several stores in his hometown of Holland, Michigan. He became involved with NYRA while attending American University and served as Executive Director from 2000-2012. During that time, he helped NYRA achieve several important important victories for youth rights at the local, state and federal level. He has be interviewed by CNN, Fox News, PBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today and written many articles on a variety of youth rights issues.

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Elijah Manley

Elijah got his start in youth rights by challenging ageist policies at his school, where he successfully halted ageist dress code rules, as well as unconstitutional detention. He has also fought to lower the voting age to sixteen in Florida and to abolish curfew laws in Miami. Elijah also ran for President of the United States in 2016, directly challenging the age of candidacy stipulations in Article 2 of the Constitution. He is the founder and current President of the Continental Youth Assembly, a youth voice organization.

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Margie Sanderson

Margie, 23, thinks kids are people. For that simple reason, Margie has been a youth rights advocate for as long as she can remember. From petitioning her school’s seating rules in grade 4 to working at a democratically run, age-mixed school and leading a youth rights discussion group for preteens in her adulthood, Margie is always looking for opportunities to further the rights of young people. She is also involved in the self-directed education movement as a member of the administrative team for Not Back to School Camp.

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Anne Sheridan

Anne’s interest in youth rights began in high school where she started a group to fight against her school’s dress codes, restrictive bathroom use, and censorship of a student-produced newspaper. Later she served as an administrator at two Sudbury schools, Diablo Valley and Leeway Sudbury, the latter of which she also co-founded. Additionally, she has worked with youth in the foster care and mental health systems, always advocating for the rights of young people.

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OUR BLOG

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Avi Hein – 20th Anniversary Reflection

Growing up outside of Washington, DC, politics is life. But, as a 15 year old, volunteering isn’t the same as voting. It was the second half...

BY Avi Hein
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Alex Jonlin – 20th Anniversary Reflection

As a ten-year-old kid in Seattle, I was already interested in politics. My friends and I marched around the playground protesting the Iraq War, and I...

BY Alex Jonlin
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Scott Davidson – 20th Anniversary Reflection

Former board member (2003-2007) and president, Scott Davidson reflects on his time with NYRA and the people he got to know during his time being active...

BY Scott Davidson
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Jackie Ferro – 20th Anniversary Reflection

I first got involved with NYRA in 2009, when I was in 8th grade. I had formed a small coalition with some fellow middle schoolers called...

BY Jackie Ferro
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NYRA-Fairfax Secures Voting Age Endorsements

Thanks to the efforts of the newly formed Fairfax County NYRA chapter, the Fairfax County Democratic Party and grassroots organizations Virginia Democracy Forward and Virginia Civic...

BY Brian Conner
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NYRA Mourns Passing of John Taylor Gatto

Renowned critic of compulsory schooling, John Taylor Gatto passed away this week at the age of 82.  A teacher for 30 years, he achieved notoriety after...

BY Alex Koroknay-Palicz
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Stefan Muller – 20th Anniversary Reflection

I joined NYRA in 2003 after reading about it in a news article about the voting age. This wasn’t my first introduction to youth rights—I’ve believed...

BY Stefan Muller
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NYRA Launches New Website!

After months of hard work by NYRA's team of volunteers, we are pleased to finally unveil our brand new look! With a new logo, a new...

BY NYRA
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Bill introduced in U.S. House to lower the voting age to sixteen

Last week, U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced a resolution proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would lower the voting age to sixteen throughout...

BY NYRA
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Support the New YouthRights.org!

NYRA's current website was redesigned in 2011 and while it looked great for the time, it is now dated in both style and function. The current...

BY NYRA
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Portland Student Rights Union joins NYRA to address Student Rights

Members of Portland Student Rights Union - A NYRA Chapter We originally started the Portland Student Rights Union (SRU) in October 2017 to protest the administration...

BY Portland Student Rights Union
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Scott Davidson – 20th Anniversary Reflection

Former board member (2003-2007) and president, Scott Davidson reflects on his time with NYRA and the people he got to know during his time being active...

BY Scott Davidson
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Schwarzenegger v Gamers – Help Us Fight Back

Arnold is trying to take away your games. Don't let him. California passed a law that would ban the sale of all "violent" video games to...

BY Alex Koroknay-Palicz
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Activists in Massachusetts Make Progress in Lowering the Voting Age

In Massachusetts, two best friends made headway in the push to lower the voting age. Aaron Nelson and Max Carr passed articles in their hometowns of...

BY NYRA
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Over 70 people testify in favor of lowering the voting age in Washington D.C.

On Wednesday, NYRA members attended a public hearing before the Washington, D.C. City Council to support the Youth Vote Amendment Act of 2018. If passed, this...

BY NYRA
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Alex Jonlin – 20th Anniversary Reflection

As a ten-year-old kid in Seattle, I was already interested in politics. My friends and I marched around the playground protesting the Iraq War, and I...

BY Alex Jonlin
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Speaking out against curfew laws in Fort Worth, TX

NYRA Chapter leader Bryce Hall spoke out against extending the juvenile curfew law in his home town of Fort Worth, Texas last Tuesday. He and other...

BY NYRA
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Time Flies When You’re Having Fun, And Drags When You’re Young

When I talk to people about lowering the voting age to 16 or lowering the drinking age to 18 they often say “Why the rush? Two...

BY Alex Koroknay-Palicz
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