I'm Not a "Future Citizen"

When someone asks you about yourself, what do you say? Maybe you tell them your age and what grade you’re in, a bit about your family, and something about the types of activities you like to do. Do you ever mention that you’re also a citizen? It might not be one of the first things that comes to mind because so often adults refer to kids as “future citizens.” However, this quote by Mara Mintzer in her TED Talk on kid’s contributions to our society had us inspired:

“Let’s stop thinking of our kids as “future citizens,” and instead start valuing them for the citizens they are today.”

If people keep telling you that your opinion about what happens in our country only matters when you’re older, might that make you less motivated to think about it today? We at Mentor Me Learning want you to know that what you do right now as a citizen has impact. And, your time to “officially” share your opinion through our country’s election process is coming quicker than you think. Did you know that in California you can pre-register to vote as early as age 16? And, youth are 40% more likely to vote when they turned 18 if taught about elections and voting. So, even if you’re not of voting age yet, learning about the path to voting can happen now, and it will help you feel more engaged in the process when you do turn 18.

This past Tuesday was #NationalVoterRegistrationDay High School Voter Registration Week, and schools all over the United States were hosting drives to register their sixteen to eighteen-year-old students. Today, we’re sharing a few ways that you can begin to embrace yourself as a citizen now and get prepared for your right to vote!

So how can YOU get involved? SIMPLE!

Step#1: If you’re a teen, find out about how and where you can register to vote.

Step #2: Stay connected to what is happening in your state and on your ballot.

Step #3: Get the word out! Let your friends know you’re pre-registered by using the hashtags #VoteReady and #RocktheVote

You can even take it one step further since there is power in collective voices coming together. Consider recruiting friends to help you host a voter registration drive. A nonprofit organization called The Civics Center can help you get started. They focus on building high school voter engagement, and you can find a voter registration action plan on their website. Here's a goal - by the time you and your peers are eligible for an election cycle, there is no voter left behind.

This piece was written by Marissa Nadjarian. We are proud to have Marissa as one of our main contributors and Mentor Me Learning Advisory Board Members. She is a service-learning specialist, educator, mother and founder of Philanthroparent. Learn more about Marissa and her work at https://philanthroparent.com/about/the-author/.