You’ve always been told that there’s power in speaking up for yourself, but how do you actually get your voice heard?
Political and social change starts when people unite and stick to a central goal. Continue reading to find out how to get involved in social activism and how to make it a life-long effort.
How to Get Started
Entering the world of political and social activism can be intimidating at first. With all the chaos in the world, the decision of where to start can be overwhelming.
Before diving in, decide what issues mean the most to you. What do you really want to change about the world? Once you figure that out, consider how much time are you willing to devote to those issues. Take Steve Rothman for example, who managed to save the last 8,400 acres of undeveloped land in the New Jersey Meadowlands during his time as a member of the U.S. Congress.
Activism can be a full-time job if you want it to be. It can also be a small daily act or a part of your weekly routine. Activism means something different for everyone.
For Younger Activists Just Starting Out
You are never too young to get involved in social activism. Here are some tips for younger people who want to start their advocacy journey.
Learn What Social Justice and Activism Really Means
As a younger activist, it’s important to learn the true meaning of social justice and activism. The Girl’s Empowerment Network creates Unstoppable Activist Spark Kits for girls grades 6-12 to map out their values and learn activism basics.
Branch Out Through Your School
Your school might already have a social or political activism club but if they don’t, be the one to start it! Clubs at school are a great way to surround yourself with like-minded people your age. Your peers will also hold you accountable for your activism work.
Joining or starting a social activism club at school gives you not only some new friends but possibly a bit of funding too. This funding can go towards poster supplies and school events. Some events that you can hold at your school include clothing drives, walk-a-thons, and bake sales for charity.
For Those 16 Years or Older
The following tips apply mostly to those in high school and beyond. Younger activists can follow some of this advice but might need some help from a parent or guardian.
Find Local Groups Online
With the power of the internet, you can quickly find local political activist groups to join. This will bring you to meet people outside of your typical circle. And with the group being local, or semi-local, you’ll learn about issues that directly affect your community.
Some groups meet up in person once a week to brainstorm, and others do all their planning online and online meet up for events. Find a group that works for your schedule and level of commitment.
Check Your Voter Registration
Voting is one of the key ways we have of fighting disenfranchisement in our country. Many people fought for the right to vote, so use it!
If you are 18 or older, or will be 18 in the next election, check your voter registration. If you’re all set and ready to vote, get your friends registered to vote.
Afterward, look into the ways you are able to vote in your state. Are you able to vote by mail? Or do you have to do it in person on election day?
Research Your Local Electoral Candidates and Issues
Activism requires research. The best place to start is by looking up your current local elected officials and their policies. Be critical with their stances; what do you want a represented official to fight for?
Next, find out when your next election cycle is and who is running. Get acquainted with the candidates and find their beliefs on key social and political issues. With this info, you can advocate for whoever you support and make an informed decision at the polls.
Protests are prime examples of political expression.
Going to a protest requires a little bit of planning. Look up local protests on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. Many profiles are dedicated to posting protest information.
For the protest itself, wear comfortable shoes and plain clothing. You’ll also want to decorate signs prior to going in the streets. Go on Instagram and Pinterest for design inspiration.
Lastly, bring a friend. There is always a possibility that a protest can get off track. A friend gives you someone to turn to if things go wrong.
Find an Internship
If you are a high school senior, college student, or college graduate, consider applying for social activism internships. Internships are a fantastic way to learn the ins and outs of political advocacy. Most internships provide mentors for you to aid you in your social activism journey.
Internships additionally can prepare you for a potential career in activism, as they give you real hands-on skills and are a great addition to your resume. Some internships are even paid so you can earn a bit of money too.
If the time commitment of an internship isn’t for you, try volunteering. Many local campaigns need people to work for free to hand out fliers or organize events. You can volunteer once a month or a few times a week.
Besides political volunteer work, you can help out at local shelters and food banks run by charities and non-profits. Many of these places support low-income families, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Donate to Causes
If your short on time, you can donate to non-profits and local groups that are doing the work. By donating money, you are supporting their efforts to fight for change.
Life-long Political and Social Activism
Remember that political advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t overload your plate so much at first that you get burnt out. Self-care is especially important as an activist so that your social activism is life-long.
For more articles full of tips like this one, check out the lifestyle section of our blog!