Check out our podcast on Spotify NYYCI: Activist Chats with Tyler
Tyler Campbell is currently the program coordinator and lead instructor for the Center for Justice: Justice Ambassadors Youth Council. This is a unique platform in the NYC area where ten young people and ten city officials in a classroom setting. It allows justice-involved people to speak to city officials and potentially guide them in policymaking. In the upcoming elections, Tyler’s program educates all about the upcoming elections. Not only do they teach about the NYC elections, but they also speak about the history of voting. Members of the Justice Ambassadors Council also present in classrooms to teach about civic duty.
Guest speakers also come into the classroom to teach students what their role is in the city council. By doing so, students can form an understanding of how city officials play a role in their lives and changes that they would like to see in their neighborhoods. City officials are not endorsed and are meant for educational purposes. This part really struck me because it’s important to learn about both sides. At this point in our lives, we are learning to make our opinions and decisions.
Most importantly, getting youth registered is the first step. After that, we need to use our voting power. If the city official does not commit to what they promised, we can hold them accountable by “continuing to go to town halls… and their job is to work for us.” We need young people to realize that “these people are meant to serve you”.
“Why do you think it's important for young people to vote?”, I asked. It is obvious that voting is a civic duty that we must complete. However, what do our votes actually impact you may ask. Tyler explained that not voting will mean votes going to a candidate that might support the same solutions that you do. “We wonder why things are messed up or why politicians are not doing what we want them to do [and] that is because we are not voting.” If you are 18 and have not registered to vote, please register! I definitely will when I am of legal age. Although I cannot vote yet, it is vital that I learn about our city’s system and how I can be civically active.
When asked what youth issues can be solved in the local government, Campbell quickly responded that “Virtually everything… the local government can determine a lot of things that happen...everything starts at the local level.” It is true that a lot of us focus more on national elections or issues affecting almost all Americans. The local government, on the other hand, has more of an impact on our day-to-day lives.
If you want something to change, you have to do something about it - Farisa