Often ignored in the political discussion, America’s young people are asking that their voices be heard in Washington, and they delivered heartfelt messages to the President in an “Inaugural Address” of their own.
In a video message: “Hear Our Voice: A Children’s/Youth Inaugural Address,” kids aged 5-25 list college affordability, gun control, hunger, health care, and K-12 education among the issues that they want President Obama and Congress to address in the new term.
The video is not scripted, and features genuine youth voices filmed in elementary, middle and high schools in Washington, Boston, and New York. It also includes individual videos uploaded by youth across the country.
The video is a co-production of the Children’s Leadership Council (CLC) and SparkAction.
“America’s young people are asking that their voices be heard in Washington. They want to know if the President is listening, if we are all listening,” said Caitlin Johnson, co-founder & managing director of SparkAction, a journalism and advocacy site to mobilize action by and for young people. “Young people are savvy future voters. They not only see the problems in their communities, they have solutions. We applaud policymakers for listening to their concerns and giving them a chance to share their ideas, and hope this sparks more of that.”
The video concludes with a call to give youth “a seat at the table,” by creating a Presidential Youth Council. Such a Council will give young people—using their first-hand experience with systems like education, child welfare, juvenile justice, public health and school lunch programs, etc.— opportunities to bring the issues they care about directly to policymakers in Washington, and help shape the policies and programs that affect their lives.
“As President Obama lays out his plans for the next four years, young people ask him to take action on the issues that are most important to their lives,” Alan Houseman, the Chairman of the Children’s Leadership Council, the nation’s largest coalition of child and youth organizations, based in Washington, DC. “You can see in the video that they are very concerned not only about their own future but also about the future of their friends and families.”