Our Youth Voices initiative gives young people the tools, training, and power they need to tell their own stories. Our five storytellers come from different backgrounds and perspectives, but they share a desire to give voice to what it means to be a young person growing up in an unequal America.
We asked our storytellers about the impact of living in a country where children, families, and entire communities are marginalized. Where systems built on oppression and racism continue to hold young people back from living up to their potential. We put the power of filmmaking in their hands. And then we listened.
They shared stories of fear and of hope. They told us about losing their childhoods, losing their peers to gun violence, losing their faith in the American dream. They also told us about the strength of community and connection, and the power of family and friends.
When we listened, what we heard is the harm we do to our young people when we put barriers in their way and deny them security, peace of mind, and joy; when we deny them the opportunity to thrive. And we found, most importantly, that youth voices are prescient, passionate, and have the power to change the world.
As our President & CEO Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson has noted, “the moral authority to define the future belongs to those who will live in it the longest – our children and youth.” It’s time to listen to our children and young people, about how their lives are impacted by the punitive and oppressive systems we continue to prop up, and about the kind of future they envision and are already at work creating.
We invite you to join us and listen to these five stories, told through film, and fully conceived of and created by each of our five Youth Voices fellows: Jojo Brew, Merci Hardy, Camilo Montoya, Camoni Mullins, and Mahia Rahman.
We hope they will inspire you to rethink what is possible for our nation’s young people when we break down the barriers in front of them.
When young people have the tools and resources they need, their potential is limitless. But right now, an unequal America—built on and fueled by policies and structures rooted in racism—is stealing the potential of millions of our children and youth, especially our Black, Indigenous, and Latino children and youth.
Fortunately, we have a once-in-a-generation chance to level the playing field for children and young people through the Build Back Better Act, a long-overdue investment in our country’s children, youth, and families.
Your legislators need to hear from you. Click here to talk with your Members of Congress about the crucial importance of passing a robust Build Back Better Act TODAY!
The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for more than 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. We champion policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education and a moral and spiritual foundation. CDF advocates nationwide on behalf of children to ensure children are always a priority.