Often times, youth voice is disregarded. Ignored. Silenced.
Many see how young we are and instantly correlate our age to being naive and uninformed about the issues and what’s going on around us. They tell us to “stay out of it” because it’s “grown-up talk.”
As if you need to be an adult to understand that another white cop has gunned down an unarmed black kid and got away with it.
Or that government officials tried to cover up their actions that left an entire city with poisoned, undrinkable water.
Or that a small-minded, loud-mouthed bigot can potentially be our next president.
We’re often told our voices don’t matter that we start to believe it doesn’t.
But some folks recognize the importance of youth voice and the potential it has to impact our community. One such organization is ABC30, who recently selected a group of youth advocates, like myself, from Fresno to Merced to be a part of the station’s first ever Youth Advisory Council.
It can be hard for the station to be aware of everything happening around Fresno and its surrounding areas. So, ABC30 partnered with Fresno Building Healthy Communities to create the Youth Advisory Council in January to help the news station build a stronger relationship with the community, especially with the youth. The Youth Advisory Council is a culturally-diverse group of 15 individuals between the ages of 16 and 24, who are able to bring in stories from the many different cultures of their lives, including but not limited to race, religion, academics and the communities we live in.
As a council, our primary goal is to help ABC30 better understand the issues and concerns of young people in communities it serves. The council meets quarterly with ABC30 staff to provide ideas on stories that the council members feel are important or that they would like to see covered more extensively.
Council member Jasmine Romero has already expressed that she would like to see ABC30 highlight more on youth achievement. Romero shared with the council that several news stations picked up a story where a Roosevelt High student punched a teacher, but never once did a station report on Roosevelt’s Academic Decathlon’s win at a competition.
But it’s not just what the Youth Council can do for ABC30, it’s also what ABC30 can do for us.
As an aspiring journalist, being a part of this council gives me first-hand insight into the media world. It allows me to dip my toes into a field that I hope to one day be part of. Not only will we be able to get a behind-the-scenes look on how broadcasts are done, we’ll also be able to meet with professionals in the field and get to pick their brains about the industry. We’re also being given the opportunity to shadow a professional at ABC30 to get a sense of what their day is like inside the studio.
The council gives me and the other members a platform to voice our opinions and know that they will be heard and that they matter. It encourages us to speak up and to not sit idly by when we want to see a change.
Having a voice is important and ABC30 recognizes that.
I believe, to paraphrase the late singer Whitney Houston, that youth are the future. If they are constantly told that their voices don’t matter, you have to wonder what that future will look like. By taking part in the ABC30 Youth Council, I do my part in building a better future.