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Climate change: These issues matter, and as young people, our voices matter, too.

A 16-year-old girl from Sweden is at the forefront of climate change activism. The most prominent gun control advocacy group is led by teenage survivors of school shootings. Student-led activism has been on the rise — and for good reason.

We live in a particularly turbulent and politically peculiar era; one where scientists can warn of the cataclysmic effects of climate inaction and still receive incredulity from lawmakers in place of cooperation. It's an era where children can be slaughtered in classrooms and no action will be taken to prevent further tragedy. Sydney Byun

There seems to be injustice at every corner, and corruption on so many levels of society. Many of these issues directly impact young people, but the concerns of teenagers too often are brushed aside — we're too naive, too young, too foolish; we've heard it all.

Take, for example, climate change. As politicians argue with one another about the extent and the very existence of this issue, the clock ticks away. Whatever they decide to do determines the future of the planet, the planet that young people will have to grow up in and future generations will be born into. These issues matter, and as young people, our voices matter, too.

On Sept. 20, young people from all over the globe participated in the Global Climate Strike, spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, a teenager herself.

Just last year, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March for Our Lives, organized by high school students including Emma González and David Hogg, the month after 17 of their classmates and teachers died in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

These protests obviously are not going to instantly resolve these highly complex problems, but the very act of forcing the world to pay attention is a vital step toward a solution.

When their constituency is vocal in their advocacy for change, politicians feel the pressure to act. Teenagers have demonstrated time and time again that they have this influence.

It's unrealistic to say that every teen will become the next Greta Thunberg or David Hogg. If everyone reached that celebrity status, there would be no public figures. Not everyone is going to be the leader of a movement, but everyone can participate; every participant is contributing to a greater cause.

Just because you're young doesn't mean your thoughts are invalid, and just because you're an adult with life experience doesn't mean you have the solution to every issue.

The voices of young people will be heard, whether their detractors want to listen or not.

Sydney Byun is is a senior at

Wilsonville High School.


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