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    Monday, March 27, 2023

    Teen Talk: Express yourself, the time to be an activist is now

    “Excuse me? C-R-O-U-L-S?”

    “No, no. P as in, um, Peter, R, O, U, L, X as in, uh, uh, X-ray.”

    “Well thank you, Maria Proulx. I will relay your message to the congressman.”

    My sigh of relief was masked by the obnoxiously loud beep concluding the call, I relaxed my iron grip on my phone and let it clatter to the kitchen table.

    It seemed only seconds ago that I had boldly dialed the number to reach the U.S. government, yet contrarily whispered, “Please be voicemail. Please be voicemail. Please be voicemail,” during each and every one of the prolonged rings. But I knew I must be heard. Words are hollow unless one acts upon them.

    This was my first foray into political activism. At church, we were urged to support the Dreamers, children of illegal immigrants who are facing possible deportation, by partaking in the Congressional Call-In Campaign.

    America is created by immigrants all over the world, Dreamers or otherwise. My grandfather was an immigrant from Germany. I just happen to be born in New London. The difference is mere circumstance.

    Imagine America was all you’ve ever known, is all you’ve ever known. This country was built on the foundation of compassion and was created by the dreams of those who came before us.

    That is why people immigrate here: to pursue a better life. That is why my grandfather emigrated here.

    It seems like few teens know how to be politically engaged, despite having strong opinions on nearly everything. As teens, we feel like our voices are not being heard because of our youth. Adults tend to overlook our opinions.

    Teens find ourselves in positions where we are forced to participate in certain activities, like school, while stifled in other activities, like student government, and we are too young to vote. We need to start stepping out into the world of political activism and taking a stance for what we believe in.

    My second brush with political activism was a rally at my high school. Saint Bernard students were given the option to participate in a student-led memorial service for #NationalWalkoutDay. Following a performance from our school choir, candles were lit for each of the 17 Parkland victims as their names were read aloud, and everyone stood for a moment of silence.

    The United States deserves to hear the voices of all her citizens, especially teenagers. Now more than ever, like the teens speaking out against gun violence, civic engagement should be in the minds of all teens.

    Be scholars, athletes, friends, musicians, artists, but most important, be politically active. America cannot wait. America’s future belongs to us. Whatever lies ahead is ours to create.

    Maria Proulx of Ledyard is an eighth-grade student at St. Bernard High School in Uncasville.

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