Activism at School and Beyond
What do student strikes in Montreal, people signing petitions about unjust laws, and asking for better working conditions in Central America have in common? When people try to help others by changing the way the world works, it can often be referred to as activism. No matter how old or young you are, you can be an activist and try to change the political, environmental, economic, or social order of the world. It is not just about changing things to the way you want them to be, but changing things for the better while working with people to find a common ground that will benefit the masses, not the few.
People get involved in activism for many different reasons. Eight hundred years ago, students in France protested against the issues that concerned them in the universities and towns. Three hundred years later, students in Korea protested against what the king was doing. Over the centuries since then, students have continued to protest against things that they believed were wrong or unjust.
Activism can take many forms, whether it’s about local or international issues. It can also be a good opportunity to learn about the world and about the problems that people are experiencing. Organizations like Amnesty International, for example, offer courses and workshops for students so that they can learn more about how to be advocates for people in need. Talking with other people can also be a good way to learn about how to become involved in activism.
Knowing what issues interest you is the first step in becoming an activist. For example, if you have no interest in sports, you are unlikely to be very effective in being an advocate for hockey or football teams. However, if you care about poverty issues or about opportunities for young workers, you can find many organizations with information on how you can get involved.
Once you know what issues you would like to pursue, you can find people to help you bring causes to light. Signing online petitions is one way of getting involved, and various social service organizations can provide information on issues that need your help. Your school might also have a special project that you can participate in.
Are you interested in social justice and equality? Organizations like the Centre for Social Justice or Make Poverty History can be good places to start. With many of these kinds of organizations, people can choose their level of participation. If you want to sign petitions, you can do that. If you want to help organize rallies, you might have an opportunity to do that together with other people in the group.
Many issues are ongoing, such as poverty or the need to help refugees. Others, however, might just involve short-term activism. A few years ago when the Quebec government wanted to raise tuition fees in universities, the students held a protest to try and keep their fees from increasing. Other students got involved in the Occupy movements in various cities to protest student debt and the greed of business leaders.
If you are passionate about a certain subject and want to make a difference in the world, why not start now?
Amnesty International. “Be a Youth Activist.” http://www.amnesty.ca/get-involved/be-a-youth-activist.
Catalyst Centre. “School of Activism.” http://www.catalystcentre.ca/school-of-activism/.
The Centre for Social Justice. “About.” http://www.socialjustice.org/index.php?page=about.
Wikipedia.org. “Student Activism.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_activism.