Two, simple words that get thrown around a lot. To put it shortly, teen activism is youth- Gen Z- advocating for change and reform in a particular social issue(s) they care about. It's incredible- seeing so many students at such young ages making a difference in society.
I personally consider myself a teen activist. I started College Pathway when I was thirteen, and GenZ Writes a few months back. Both do take up a tremendous amount of time, and both have caused me stress many times throughout my nonprofit journey. However, I still continue managing these organizations because I can see it having a direct impact on the students that we work with. Not only am I able to actually make a difference with a cause that I care about, but I also impact my community in a positive way in the process. Isn't that what being a founder is all about?
However, one thing I've noticed, as a 15-year-old high school student, is the eagerness among students nowadays to be a 'founder.'
"I founded these nonprofit organizations."
"I'm the founder of this organization."
"Did you know that I'm the founder of this organization?"
Among today's high schoolers, I've stumbled upon such an eagerness to be a 'founder' of a nonprofit organization, business, initiative, club- really, just anything. Instead of seeing the passion, motivation, and dedication to create change that should come with your 'founder' title, I instead see so many students simply talking about their founder status, and doing... nothing else.
While I encourage students to take initiative and make a difference, I do occasionally question the motives of certain student-run organizations with nearly identical programs, mission statements, and more to other initiatives. And believe me, it's extremely demotivating to see someone else blatantly copy off of your hard work. I've firsthand experienced people starting organizations almost identical to mine, copying off of programs, mission statements, graphics, etc. Partnering with the same organizations. Reaching out to the same people. It's frustrating, believe me. And sometimes, I find myself in the position where I can't do anything about it. But if I could tell those students something, I would tell them this:
Instead of focusing on titles, focus on your impact.
Instead of trying to start your own organization for the wrong reasons, use your skills and abilities to make a single project even stronger.
Don't get so caught up in the whole "I'm a founder, you're not" kind of thing- don't feel like you need to found/ start something just because everyone else is doing it.
Create tangible and sustainable change, instead of worrying about your resume or LinkedIn profile.
Instead of competing for resources, use your strengths and reinvent something that's great already.
I see so much potential in Gen Z as a whole- we're full of bright, young individuals who are capable of so many things. If you resonate with this article, I highly encourage you to do something out of your comfort zone- whether it be taking the next step towards creating tangible change, owning up to past mistakes, or reinventing something that needs to be reinvented- you can do it. I believe in you.