Before decisions are made, research must be done to understand how the proposed decisions will affect society. As a result, data collecting methods such as polls and focus groups are conducted. Often, when decisions affecting the youth are proposed, the youth are not always involved in the data collecting process. Instead, the data collected is focused on the parents and officials who will be indirectly affected. Now more than ever, young people of this society have begun to take a stand against such exclusive data methods. On multiple occasions, young people have identified the flaws in systems, agencies such as the Department of Education and American Child Services. Young people have established and advocated for change that benefited the officials, the parents and the youth.
As a young person and researcher who plays a role in influencing these agencies, it is important to be hopeful. Without hope, it is hard to complete the tasks need to leave an impression on government agencies. When the agencies are not conducting the research, we must conduct it. When it seems like no one will listen, we cannot stop talking. There are days when the work seems to have no end, but there is always the reminder that we are not alone. As advocates for the better, we support each other and we have the support of the youth unable to voice their opinions. However, there are also times when it may seem like none of our methods are working, the support is not there and the hope we feel, at this time, may not be enough. In that moment, advocates especially young advocates must remember why they began this journey, the experiences that encouraged them to advocate for change, and the people that inspired a feeling of hope. The role youth playing in influencing government agencies is a big one, but it is not a burden because the solution will not be the product of one young person, it will be the hope, belief, and research of many.
- Monica Murray