In February of this year, CYL had the opportunity to facilitate a workshop series for high school students competing at the Colorado State DECA Conference in Colorado Springs! CYL was able to impact over 4,300 students from urban, rural and suburban areas across Colorado through this two-day workshop series. While amplifying the work of our partners, we gave students a plethora of workshops to choose and learn from: We called in 10 of our organizational partners to help us facilitate workshops around leadership, financial literacy, youth voice, self-exploration, and civic engagement.
Specifically, CYL engaged four different Colorado-based partners––Young Invincibles, Hunger Free Colorado, New Era Colorado, and Rise Above Colorado––to help us lead our civic engagement workshops. Students who attended these workshops were given the opportunity to learn about each partner’s work, current ballot initiatives and campaigns, as well as best practices for reaching out to their elected representatives via postcard writing. Then, students were given time to write postcards to their elected representatives about whatever ballot issues they were most passionate about!
“Does anyone REALLY read these?”
In this workshop, students were empowered to advocate for issues they care most about, regardless of their ability to vote due to age or other circumstances. By the end of the day, we had a stack of over 500 postcards all advocating for a variety of pressing House and Senate bills in the legislative session – with trends around big issues such as ending gun violence in schools, increasing testing for fentanyl and other substance use issues, access to mental health support in schools. More issues included access for translation and language advocating for translation resources, access to affordable health insurance and life-saving medications and fire mitigation. Some students doubtfully asked, “Do our representatives REALLY read these?” Several weeks after the postcards were sent, responses from legislative offices all over the state started coming back to us at CYL applauding students for their civic engagement.
This was such an empowering experience for students to use their voice to be heard by people who make decisions that directly affect them. As a call to action for our elected officials, our young people care deeply about the strength and safety of their communities. Deeply listen and act on changes they want to see. They are the voice of change.