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Alyssa Devine – Summer Fellow Reflection

Written by Alyssa Devine Jun 15, 2016

Alyssa - NYRA pictureI was completely unfamiliar with youth rights before getting involved with NYRA. As a youth myself, I experienced discrimination and ageism but always assumed society would drop its attitude toward me when I became 18. I never once thought that youth could be treated as equal citizens in my community. The idea simply never occurred to me.

It is ironic that one of the most vulnerable demographics in the country, youth, is provided less rights and protections than adults. For example, school personnel are legally authorized to violate youth by searching and seizing cell phones, bags, and other personal property without warrants because many rights and protections to not apply to individuals under 18. These instances are common, but NYRA aims to collaboratively work with youth to change legislation and policy so that they are treated equally and protected from ageism.

NYRA’s mission to enhance youth rights and equally is unique because it addresses youth discrimination and issues. One of the organization’s strengths is it relies on grassroots campaigns in which youth fight on their own behalf with minimal guidance from NYRA. This model is vital to NYRA’s mission as it empowers youth to change their own communities.

Although new, the youth rights movement has been able to learn from other civil rights groups throughout history which strengthens NYRA’s ability to empower youth to fight for equality. The Fourteenth Amendment forbids denying any person equal protection of law. Youth are people and they deserve to be treated as such. That is NYRA’s mission.

Because of NYRA I have come to understand how and why youth should become citizens with the full rights and protections that are already guaranteed for those who have reached the age of majority. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the youth rights movement and am looking forward to witnessing history being made.

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