Alma (center) and Alexis (right) first got involved with YUGA during the 2013 Leadership Summit–and they haven’t stopped taking action since!
What inspired you to take action for the first time? Was it a movie you watched? A letter you got in the mail? A surprising statistic?
For Alexis, it was hearing the stories from youth around the world at the Leadership Summit–and realizing that she could do something to help. And for Alma, it was her passion for education that brought her to YUGA. Her parents didn’t have access to education, and it became her priority as a student and youth activist; and like Alexis, after talking with other young people at the Summit, she realized that “everything positive has come through education.” After attending the Summit together, they decided that the best way to take action was to start their own YUGA chapter.
At first, it wasn’t easy. They had to get the word out about their new chapter to their fellow students at their high school in Wisconsin. They found an adult advisor; they found a time and place to meet. They presented YUGA to their peers–and luckily, “I’m very loud,” says Alexis, and neither one of them minded talking to others to encourage them to join
“My favorite thing was doing the [YUGA] workshops,” says Alma. “Just seeing their faces of shock—just like, wow, you actually taught them something.”
They met their goal and held a screening of Girl Rising, which was a big success–but they want to do more next year, involving more people. They have continued to lead workshops inspired by the information and activities in YUGA’s toolkits. During their workshops, Alexis says, “teachers will pass by, and see us doing something, and they’ll come in and get into it. It’s cool to teach your teachers something. They tell us: ‘Thank you girls for trying to bring this awareness to our school.’”
What’s next for them? Well, their goal is to do a Walk4Wells in the spring. They’re already imagining ways to get creative, including options for a run, and races for younger kids. And Alexis wants to bring YUGA with her to college in the fall. Her top choice college even mentioned her involvement in YUGA in her acceptance letter!
Their advice for their fellow youth activists is simple. First, from Alma: “Don’t be afraid to try new things and bring new ideas. Step up and do what you want to do.”
And finally, from Alexis: “Don’t get too discouraged. Sometimes it is hard to get your opinions out there. Don’t give up. In the end, you’ll make a difference. You might not notice it at first, but you will.”