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Time for a Presidential Youth Council

The youth of the United States feel powerless. Fifty-two percent of young people aged 18-29 think that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Only thirty-two percent feel as if they have any say at all. Too often, we’re told that we’re “too young” to really make a difference. Alex Wirth, a current student at Harvard University, decided that this generation isn’t too young – and why shouldn’t we have a say in our own futures?

It was this question and others like it that began the initiative for a Presidential Youth Council. Many large organizations such as State Farm and DoSomething.org already implement youth councils to great success. It seemed only natural to go from the local level to national and give those aged 16-24 a voice in the United States government. “The government will be able to hear from the younger generation about major issues that are affecting them,” said Wirth when describing the proposal. Wirth hopes that by providing the point of view from the demographic that is least represented, the government will become more effective and will take the perspectives of youth into account.

The basic structure of the council is simple, but effective. Federal agencies would nominate young people ages sixteen to twenty-four based on experience with other federal programs, outreach initiatives, or internships. Members of the council would reflect the political, racial, and socioeconomic diversity of the country, and the age range ensures that high school students to young professionals have a voice.

Before the Presidential Youth Council can become a reality, however, it needs presidential support. Though several members of Congress have already acknowledged it, Wirth hopes to see both presidential candidates announce their support during their battle for the Oval Office. During the months leading up to the election, those backing the Council hope to drum up as much support as they can and encourage other young people to do the same. Their biggest help is PopVox, which allows young people to write directly to their own members of Congress. Wirth and the other Youth Council supporters hope to get as many co-sponsors as possible.  

Wirth believes that it’s time for the youth in America to be heard. “We’re more likely to see the glass as half-full…and more likely to ask why and why not,” he said. “Young people each and every day are doing absolutely amazing things. We just need to be given the chance.”