Step-by-Step: How to Be a Youth Activist
March 6, 2024

By Enya Fang, 2024 Future Blue Youth Council member

You’ve probably heard of Greta Thunberg, seen viral videos of people throwing canned soup on the Mona Lisa, and thought: what on earth does it take to be an activist these days?

My organization, Evergreen Collective, was the brainchild of my province’s worst wildfire season in history. It began in July of 2021 with one friend posting an Instagram story asking if anyone was interested in starting a service project for wildfire relief. I responded within minutes. Weeks later, we began organizing small community fundraisers: selling Krispy Kreme donuts in front of Metro stations and shopping malls to raise money for humanitarian charities like the Red Cross and United Way. Though I knew our fundraisers had a direct environmental impact, the term “climate change” was little more than an echoing buzzword for me back then. I was helping people, which was objectively the main value that our team, a group of regular high-school students, grounded ourselves in.

I did not consider myself an activist until much later on. With my executive team, I wrote two blogs under Evergreen Collective – one covering conservation efforts in popular travel destinations, the other shedding light on unsung heroes in the movement – and gradually diversified our initiatives into workshops, charity debate tournaments, and educational webinars. When we held our second annual wildfire fundraiser the next summer, Evergreen Collective had over 100 active volunteers. Still, I was no Greta Thunberg, and to me, our organization was no groundbreaking invention. It was a group of youth brought together by an interest in humanitarian work and a common love for the environment.

The main takeaway from this story is that activism, no matter the scale, is a journey that you and those working beside you define. There is no step-by-step rulebook or expensive blue checkmark that makes you an activist. The smaller takeaways, though, are the following:

  • Before you commit to anything, ask yourself why. Why do you care, who is it for, and what do you hope to gain?
  • Find people with common interests as you and work from there. When I co-founded our organization, I knew almost nobody on the team. Now we’re all fast friends.
  • Keep learning and exploring new topics. Just because you have a special interest in one thing does not mean that everything else is reduced in importance. One of the main reasons I began our conservation blog was that I wanted to share my love of travelling and scrapbooking through an environmental lens. Find ways to connect your interests.
  • Think about where you want to be and write down all the steps it will take to get there. Activism is neither a static journey nor a solitary one. Be realistic, ambitious, and above all, genuine in your goals.

But perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is not to take advice as hard rules. I can only speak on behalf of my own experience and observations. Just know that whatever it is you are interested in and however difficult it may seem to make a dent in the wider scope of the world, there are people you can talk to and resources you can readily access. Bow Seat’s Fellowship Grant is a great place to start for anyone ready to put an idea into motion!

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Step-by-Step: How to Be a Youth Activist

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