5 Things You Can Do as A Youth Advocate This Summer

At the Bender Leadership Academy, we believe that advocacy is a critical skill for our students. To be a true advocate is to empower yourself and others. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand how to take the step from wanting to be an advocate to taking action which can bring about change. So, we wanted to share some ideas on how to get started with our students this summer.

1. Practice Storytelling

Never underestimate the power of your personal story. When you share why something matters to you, you give others the opportunity to understand what motivates you and the impact change would have on the lives of others. This is why it is a common practice to have people testify as to why a potential law would matter to them or how a law could hurt them. It allows those involved in the lawmaking process to understand how this action would affect the citizens of this country.

Opportunities to practice storytelling:

  • Engage in public speaking opportunities.
  • Sign up for a public speaking class.
  • Engage on social media by supporting groups that matter to you.
  • Support other students with disabilities through the Bender Lead On Team.
  • Borrow books from the library on public speaking and telling your story.

2. Write a Letter

Writing a letter is a great way to share your story and why a cause is important to you. Writing a letter can mean showing support for something you believe in, inquiring into what is available, or asking for change. When writing a letter, make sure you have a clear, defined purpose and message. The good thing about wiring letters is that you can edit them until you are happy with it before sending. You can even ask others to take a look to make sure your message is clear and concise.

Opportunities to send letters:

  • Show support for a celebrity with a disability.
  • Inquire about a politician’s disability platform.
  • Thank someone for their support of the disability community or for supporting you.
  • Share why it is important that they don’t spread stigma; engage them in the #NotAshamed or #SlaughterStigma
  • Ask a company to be inclusive with the products or services they offer or thank them for offering inclusive products or services.

3. Join a Mentorship Program

Mentorship programs allow you to connect with someone with shared interests who can help you to grow your leadership skills. These programs offer the opportunity to grow your independence and your network of influence in the community. Join the Bender Mentorship Initiative for free to get started on your first mentorship opportunity.

4. Volunteer/Fundraise

Identify a cause that matters to you and show your support by volunteering or fundraising to support your cause. You do not have to be an adult to be a volunteer or participate in fundraising. You can be a leader now and you can make a difference now.

Opportunities to volunteer/fundraise:

  • Support the Bender Leadership Academy by fundraising for the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community.
  • Contact local businesses to ask them to be a hole sponsor for the Annual Mary Brougher Memorial Golf Outing.
  • Inquire periodically to be a volunteer speaker at future events.
  • Volunteer to help with set up or cleanup for an event.
  • Start a social media campaign to fundraise for the Bender Leadership Academy.

5. Register to Vote

Exercise your voice by registering to vote when you turn 18. Establish what you need to put in place to be able to vote on state voting days and research candidates, so you know who shares your vision for the future of your community and your country. Learn more about Rev Up PA.