Happy International Youth Day!
I remember watching President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 inaugural address. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” he said. As a teenager, those words had a profound impact on me, and they still resonate today.
Most people who dedicate their lives to public service can tell a similar story of inspiration -- an epiphany that drove them to change their communities for the better. But going from inspiration to action can be daunting. Many young people who are inspired to make a mark on their communities don’t feel like they have the support or know-how to get started.
The Tom Daschle Leadership Initiative seeks to strengthen democratic governance and leadership globally. The National Democratic Institute’s work to inspire and support youth political participation has been a key component of this initiative, and today I’m happy to announce a new online resource for young activists on how to become more politically involved.
The Change My Community Toolkit, created in partnership with the University of Kansas and the National Endowment for Democracy, provides youth activists with “beginner tools for taking action, being heard and improving your world.” It provides practical guidance for young people who know what change they want to see in their community -- college campus, neighborhood, village or even country -- but need help on how to achieve it. While each of the tools has to be adapted to the political environment with which young people operate, the Toolkit provides organizing principles that apply everywhere.