What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the word advocacy? The first time I was asked the question two years ago, the first thing that came to my mind was Google. Why Google? Because I didn’t really know what the word meant. So after I Googled the definition, I started referring to it with different words like sticking up for yourself, expressing your thoughts, etc.
Advocacy work is done in three steps: 1. Giving the right information, 2. to the right people, 3. at the right time!
Advocating is very important and it is safe to assume we all do it in our daily lives without even knowing, all because we didn’t know what the word advocacy meant. As a Young Parent Policy Fellow, most of the work I do is advocating for young/teen parents in Boston, to help shape policies and change the perception around teen pregnancy. It is awesome! To me, these are five awesome things young people should know about advocacy and their impact in shaping policies:
- Your story is powerful! A personal, true story being told to help change policies is more powerful than assumptions or thoughts being made by people who are first of all not young, or parents.
- Who better to advocate for what young/teen expectant and parents need than a young/teen that is expectant or parenting themselves! That’s right; YOU know what YOU and YOUR family need to be happy, healthy, and successful so YOU would be the best person to advocate for all those things.
- Advocacy is done in many different ways like sending letters, emails, using social media, making digital stories, publicly speaking at an event, making phone calls. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but the fact that you are.
- Our voice matters! We may not be 35 with a master’s degree but what we have to say is just as important as what any provider, educator, policymaker, etc… has to say.
- Always remember, by advocating we not only help shape better policies and change perception for young/teen parents, we also prove to the world that young people are strong and capable leaders!
On Thursday, March 26th there will be an event at the Massachusetts State House called Teen Parent Lobby Day. Teen Parent Lobby Day is all about advocating and sharing our stories to help change the policies. Expectant and parenting teens have the opportunity to have a one on one meeting with their legislator and advocate for what they need. I am very excited for the event; this will be my second year going. It is a great opportunity to meet and connect with other young parents in Massachusetts.