This Teenager Is Paving The Way For Young Adult Activism

by Kat Kothen-Hill


Now more than ever, our newsfeeds are awash with political happenings and global news — most of which is absolutely disheartening. In the flurry of news about mass shootings, natural disasters, political farces, and nuclear weapons, it’s hard to figure out what personal actions to take to contribute to fixing these issues. Breaking through the confusion, one teenager girl is leading a news network specifically aimed to inform young adult activists of specific actions individuals can take to make a difference. 

In June 2016, 17-year-old Jesse Anderson attended the Summer Institute at the ACLU. “I’ve always been interested in activism. After my time at ACLU Summer Institute, I saw all these amazing other youths who were so engaged. And I knew so many people wanted to be engaged, but just didn’t know how,” she said. “Anyone — especially youth — can be engaged.” 

Inspired by the Summer Institute, Anderson and her fellow high schoolers built NYAToday, News for Young Activists Today, a news website designed to bring young adults into the world of everyday activism. Anderson, the founder and CEO, described the network as a “women-led company and minority majority.”

Along with articles detailing current events, like recent mass shootings and Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, when possible, specific actions individuals can take are listed. From big to small actions, Anderson said this is to make activism “more accessible for the everyday reader who doesn’t have the time to do more extensive actions.”

An example increasing the ease of everyday actions, NYAToday recently partnered with to create several different templates for contacting senators about issues like health insurance, carbon usage, and Trump’s wall.

jesse nyatoday middle photo f39c8

As for why activism is so important for young people, Anderson explains, “We are inheriting the world around us. Whatever we do now is going to affect us and so many other things. Other things may be too late to — we cannot wait to act and combat climate change. Clock is ticking. Can’t say someone else will fix it.” 

NYAToday is currently focusing on two “neglected and solvable” major issues in addition to their articles about current events. The first of which is the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  “[This is] pushed under the rug,” Anderson said. “it just seems like no one is paying attention to the crisis.” 

The second global problem highlighted is the famine in Yemen. Due to Saudi Arabia’s actions, backed by the United States and United Kingdom, millions of people have been left to starve, all in addition to an outbreak of cholera ravaging through the population.

Let’s hope that soon enough young activists will be replacing our current old white man leaders. Here’s to a new generation of activists putting the power of social media to the test. 

Photos courtesy of Jesse Anderson.

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