by Grace Hase, senior, Archbishop Mitty H.S.
Do hard things. The past two years working with legislators at the state and federal level have not been easy for us at Archbishop Mitty. Especially when necessary programs have been painfully cut from our budgets. I have found inspiration from a book that I read this past year, Do Hard Things by teenagers Alex and Brett Harris.
Alex and Brett operate a public awareness organization Rebelution to encourage students to take initiative in society. Their efforts have resulted in the empowerment of teens across the world. The book has had a great impact on me and my friends. I had the opportunity to interview Alex Harris recently and want to share their mission with you.
“We definitely are advocates, and is every rebelutionary (in our network)! Our goal is not only for personal growth in character and competence, but to collaborate with other young people to change how society views the teen years.” Just like MAP, this community Rebelution, take progressive action against social injustices, and work for the marginalized. Upon learning about Alex and Brett I learned our goals are one in the same: advocate for the voiceless. “For Brett and me, that means telling stories of what ordinary young people are doing–and storytelling is at the core of any effective advocacy campaign.”
The primary goal for Alex and Brett is to help teens see they can achieve far more than the way they are perceived in society. They even created their own word to sum this all up: Rebelution. Rebelution derives from the words revolution, and rebellion.
Two years of working in advocacy has taught me the important of personalizing an issue your meeting with a legislature. Storytelling is the root and heart of any effective lobbyist talking points. We work to tell the stories of those less fortunate to our state and national legislators. The girl who was trafficked into slavery from her local community center. The foster care child who works to overcome the obstacles in obtaining an education. And, the homeless mother of two who barely makes end meet living off of food stamps.
What I find remarkable is we are not college-educated adults delivering these points to our representatives, we are simply ambitious high school students trying to make a different. So you can see I was thrilled to learn we aren’t the only group that works through the government to change society. Alex and Brett themselves dove into an internship thousands of miles away from their home town at the Alabama Supreme Court house at the age of sixteen. “It was exciting, and challenging”, states Alex. “We had never worked a nine to five job before, or had as much responsibility as we were eventually given. But it was also our ‘personal rebelution’ because that was where we clearly saw, for the first time, the power of expectations.”
Walking into each and every legislative meeting, MAP students prove that what Alex and Brett did is possible for any teenager. Each and every meeting is followed by a renewed sense that teenagers can act to change the world, and that the respect for them to do so is given to them by these adults in return. Teenagers all over the world have been rising up and joining the cause to have youth be the change of the world. Thousands of other teen’s stories are located throughout the Harris’ book and on their blog. So now the real question is: are you ready to do hard things?