At the first annual Rethink Summit in a cold and dusty warehouse, a community of youth flourished. Minds opened. Synergy sparked. And the world experienced a positive new change.
What do you do if your peers don’t care about politics?
You wake them up, that’s what.
That’s exactly what several high school students decided to do when they attended Summit at the Pier in 2016. Over the course of the two-day inquiry event, a group of politically inclined youth came together to talk and share ideas — and to figure out a way to get their agemates more involved in the way societal decisions are made. The group discussed their concerns about low voter turnout among youth, and followed a line of inquiry with the goal of solving the problem by engaging their peers more deeply in politics.
“In the BC curriculum, there is only one required unit on political structure, platforms, elections and civics,” explains YPC cofounder Magritte Gordaneer. “We strongly believe having youth engaging in politics while still in high school is extremely important in setting the stage for them to be engaged in the political process post-graduation, and when voting.”
With chapters at Esquimalt High and Victor Brodeur, YPC meets weekly and follows a student-led discussion format. Run for youth by youth and founded on the model of educating through discussion, the discourse is passionate yet respectful. “One of the organization’s core values is the acknowledgment of diverse political views, beliefs and opinions,” says Magritte. “This allows passion to be expressed within debates, and a variety of perspectives to be thoroughly explored.”
It’s those passionate discussions that YPC cofounder Mayabelle [last name kept private] loves so much. “I admire the confidence and the fearlessness that is expressed by my peers during these discussions and debates,” she says. “Knowledge spewing back and forth, zip spit fire, while others listen, understand, and formulate.”
We at Rethink Thinking know that education is a vehicle for societal change. It’s why we’re driving change through discussion, inquiry, collaboration, self-expression and a commitment to being awake at the wheel.
And that’s exactly the stance YPC cofounder Lia Holla takes. “When youth are more informed and politics is more [a part] of normalized conversation, they most often feel more of a responsibility to care and actively engage in the political process.”
It’s a pretty inspiring result from a weekend of connecting, questioning and thinking of ways to make a positive impact in the world. “Watching our simple idea turn into a widespread organization in only a year, has been energizing and inspiring,” says Lia. “I am excited to watch YPC continue to grow.”
Youth Political Commons (YPC) is holding its first annual conference at Esquimalt Secondary on November 20, in the library. Free of charge and open to interested teens, the night promises engaging conversation around international politics, current events and issues that are relevant to today’s youth.