In the wake of the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida this week, student survivors are demanding that adults take action to prevent tragedies like this from occurring. It is incumbent on all adults, including library staff, to support these youth as they speak out and call for change in their communities and in our country.
One way library staff can do this is by providing opportunities for teens to be positive agents of change in their communities. We can do this by offering a brave and welcoming space for them to discuss issues like gun control and mental health care, providing opportunities for leadership, helping them hone their skills in inquiry, evidence, and presentation, and facilitating engagement in their communities.
To assist library staff in their efforts, my Presidential Taskforce and I have created the Youth Activism through Community Engagement wiki – a resource designed to help library staff build their knowledge and skills around youth activism and to help teens become youth activists. It contains research, toolkits, and examples of youth activism in action.
Beginning this month and continuing through the end of my presidential year in June, the Taskforce will also be featuring examples of library staff supporting youth activism on the YALSA blog. Be on the look out for these blog posts and please contact me if you have stories about youth activists in your community that you would like to share.
I will admit that this is personal for me. I have a 15 year old son – he is a freshman in high school. As the young people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas have clearly and loudly stated, this is unacceptable! This must stop! I applaud their bravery in speaking out. It’s now time for us, the adults in the room, to step forward, to support them, and to amplify their voices.