Jamie - NYRA pictureIt is a great honor to serve as a NYRA fellow and I am excited to help out as much as I can. Orientation was an amazing experience full of reflection and insight. I really appreciated all the great discussions I had with my fellow activists and with NYRA members. The combination of lectures, discussions, data presentation, expert opinion, and movies, really brought everything together for me about how I feel regarding youth rights.

What astounds me about youth rights is how seemingly subtle it is. I do not believe the average American realizes how the treatment of youth in this country is similar to other oppressed groups. Other civil rights movements, like women’s rights, African American rights, and LGBTQ rights, have been fleshed out and have drawn the attention of the majority of people. Today, these civil rights issues are openly talked about. But, even in the earliest moments of these movements, these civil rights violations seemed subtle to the average person as well. When slavery was incredibly common, less people realized the violations against African slaves. When the women’s movement was quiet, most people did not realize how marginalized women were. This rings true for every oppressed group. What changed? How did these civil rights movements become well-known, even mainstream? It took hard working, dedicated people to advocate for their cause. Youth rights is still relatively unknown, and so I have the motivation to bring it to the public eye.

And yet, youth rights is different from the rest. Unlike other civil rights movements, every single person in this country has been oppressed simply because everyone was once in their youth. That is the astounding thing about youth rights. It has affected each individual, regardless of gender, sex, ethnicity, or religion, and I think that will be the key to promoting youth rights now and in the future.