CLARK, NJ - Two ALJ Students have announced they are forming “Young Voices for Clark”, a group of students dedicated to promoting awareness and involvement in social justice and quality of life issues.

Shannon Heaning and Julia Steiner, both Juniors at Arthur L. Johnson High School, explained that the idea to form the group started as a response to misleading news and commentaries on the pandemic, the 2020 election and its aftermath.

 “We were displeased with how the pandemic and other issues were being discussed on the national level.  The misinformation was troubling.  But we realized that we weren’t helpless.  Even though we are young, we have a voice”, Heaning explained.  Referring to Clark’s reputation as a politically ‘red’ town, Steiner added, “We think it’s important for people to know that there’s more than one perspective in Clark. This is one place where we can share progressive ideas.”

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According to Heaning and Steiner, their goal in forming the group is to “foster a youth movement” that will focus on fighting climate change and the “widespread disinformation” now seen in politics. They added that they will also focus on social justice issues and will communicate on issues through blogs and as “Young Voices” on Instagram.  They also plan to work with other state, county and local organizations that share their concerns.

As for local issues, Heaning and Steiner plan to work to support the revitalization of the Clark Reservoir.   They want young people to have a voice in planning how it can be used and enjoyed by residents. Young Voices for Clark will also engage in service projects, including installing one or more stand-alone “libraries” in public areas through which residents can borrow and share reading materials. Heaning noted that these “little libraries” are already enjoyed by residents in several neighboring towns, including, Westfield, Cranford and Roselle.

“Young Voices” is open to any Clark high school student and recent graduates. So far, about two dozen students have expressed interest in joining “Young Voices”.  Heaning and Steiner expect to host regular remote meetings by April.  Anyone interested in the group should contact Shannon Heaning at 732-757-6036 or Julia Steiner at 908-868-6970.

We’re really excited,” said Heaning. “We’re hearing from more people every day.  We really see a new energy in the young people of Clark.”

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