When I look at today’s youth, I think often about how we can best prepare them for the future and their future as leaders of our country.  Providing our youth with the life skills they need is imperative to helping to correct society’s most critical problems. One important aspect of that is civic engagement.

Several girls from Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey had the unique opportunity last week to attend a bipartisan panel on the importance of civics education. Why is this so important?  Youth need to learn about our government, how the democratic process works and how they fit into it.  More importantly, they need to know how to become effective citizens.

The right to vote is a privilege and when our youth turn 18, they also will have the responsibility and power to vote. In 2020, the nation will be celebrating the 19th Amendment when women were granted the right to vote. With this milestone, we should be teaching youth how to tap into opportunities to be actively engaged and have their voices heard.  While schools attempt to teach civics, other youth-serving organizations can be helpful in filling the void.

Youth can make a difference. They need to see that they can advocate for themselves and others about issues that matter to them. There are so many young people making a difference including students who voice their concerns about violence in schools. Those who advocate banning plastic bags and straws. And youth who run collection drives for the homeless, make cards for veterans, and volunteer at their local soup kitchen or food pantry. All you need is a passion and a willingness to step up to truly make the world a better place.