Mighty times for student voices!

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What a time it is for our country, our democracy and our world.  A time of great sadness, but also of great hope, as young people use their rights to stand up and say….

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I’ve met so many this fall who say,  “we can do better”, and they are taking action to prove it. They say it keeps their spirits up, and I know it’s true!

Here are a just a few of the amazing people I met:

Meet Khadija, who I met at Loyola law school in Chicago.  She’s been keeping her spirits up with “Voices of Youth,” which got SB 100 passed in the Illinois legislature.  The new law changes harsh discipline practices an increases support services for students. Now, they’re working to more laws to help kids, like HB4208.  “It’s a good time to stand up,” Khadijah said.

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Next to Khadijah is Miranda Johnson, of the Education Law & Policy Center at Loyola, which has a “suspension hotline” & other great projects for kids’ rights.

While Khadijah is busy changing laws, other youth have been on the campaign trail.

Meet James, who I met campaigning in Maryland.  He said he “loves canvassing” because he gets to meet people and talk about his issues:  “education & the environment.”

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Meet Emil & Leila, who also campaign in Maryland.  Their message to voters:  “We can march but we can’t vote, so we need YOU to get out and vote.”  They support youth friendly issues, like reducing gun violence, taking care of the planet, and making our country’s ideals of “equality” and “justice for all” real.

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Thousands of students are using the free press to make students’ lives better.

Meet Addi, Annalyssa and McKayla.  I met them and so many other friends of the free press in Ft. Collins, Colorado, where the Colorado Student Media was holding a conference for 1700 high school journalists.

At Windsor HS, these three write for their student paper and started a project to prevent suicide and “other traumatic events”  after one of their classmates killed himself.  They decided they needed to take action, and they are!

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And, other students made other changes in their schools.

Meet the Interact Club at Justice High School in Virginia.   With other students and adults, they worked for several years to change the name of their school from “Jeb Stuart”, who was a Confederate general, to it’s new name, “Justice High School”

This is the dedication ceremony that I attended to kick off the new school year.

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I also meet so many teachers who help students learn- and use- their rights.

Meet Haley.  She’s a student teacher at Bowling Green University in Ohio.  Not only does she stand up for students’ rights, she also stands up for teachers, saying, “We are teaching the future of American, and that’s one of the most important things there is.”

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And, speaking of the future of American, meet Freddie.  He’s the future, but also the present, and he believes in standing up for his rights now.   I met him & other Colorado students at the Colorado Supreme Court.  Thanks, Justice Melissa Hart for hosting us!

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Do you care about the environment? Meet Leo, who I met in October outside the Supreme Court at a rally to support the lawsuit, “Juliana v US.” It aims to force the government to protect the environment. The Supreme Court ruled last week that the case can proceed.

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So many students are taking action on gun violence, and thank goodness they are!

Meet Lauryn, on the right.  Her boyfriend, Zaire, was killed in Washington DC last year in a holdup for his cell phone.  Lauryn is working on a mural project to memorialize him and raise awareness against gun violence.  You can help by contributing at the link.

With Lauryn is Ryane Nickens.  Her world came crashing down when she was a child and her family was struck numerous times by gun violence.  She started the Tra Ron Center, and Lauryn is on the Board.  In the photo, she’s showing us a bullet she found on her way to the center.

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Students at the National Cathedral School in DC also want to stop gun violence.  Here is one of the armbands they made when I spoke there.

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But, a lot of times I meet adults who say they wish they would have had a chance to speak up and stand up when they were younger.  Meet Melody, who I met at a program at Loyola Law School. She told me that, as a child, she “never stood up for anything, ” and that “I don’t want my grandkids to do that, so I’m going to tell them the ‘Tinker’ story.”

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I gave Melody copies of my “Color My Rights” coloring books for her grandkids.  Thanks for the love, Melody, and thanks to all the wonderful people I met this fall on my ‘Tinker Tour’ travels.

Here’s to a future where all kids will speak up, stand up, and make a better world!

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