This article was written for and published in Seventeen Magazine.
The 2018 midterms will be the first election that I will be legally able to vote. I turned 18-years-old just several short weeks ago, in advance of November 6. And while I am excited and empowered to finally cast a ballot, not being able to vote in past elections did not stop me from seeking alternative ways to understand and advocate for the things that I care about. For me, educating yourself on the issues that strike a passion within you has always been the foundation of activism and civic engagement.
The idea of “creating an impact” may seem challenging and that our voices don’t matter, especially in today’s state of affairs. I want to tell all young people to not give up on the change you wish to see. Continue to find a purpose through advocacy and if you’re 18, make sure you vote.
Join a demonstration and talk to legislators. The first time I participated in activism was when I was fourteen. I would go to events with my parents where the whole community was involved including our politicians running for local office. So, 14-year-old Hailey decided to walk up to the politicians, look at them and say, “give me your spiel.” Having an understanding of what they wanted to administer within my community gave me knowledge, which gave me power and paved a way for me to determine what and who I wanted to support.
I am a huge advocate for discourse and believe that it pushes society forward. We can’t achieve progress if we don’t have conversations about what matters to us with those shaping our country’s future. We must participate.
For those of you who may not be able to cast a ballot, I encourage you to still research the candidates running for office in your area as there are many things that you can do to help those you prefer to represent you and your community. Whether its door knocking, volunteering on a campaign, or even talking to kids at your school about issues, it matters. For those of you who haven’t registered yet – look into your state’s deadline now! You can register at my own page.
When I first acted on my interest in politics, I felt underestimated. Instead of letting that discourage me, I took at it as an opportunity. My advice to you when you are being underestimated, come back even more prepared with questions and evidence that you are listening. Together we can make change, and together we already are.