Young people are poised to make a difference all across the country. And we at UnidosUS have built platforms and tools to engage their passion and civic activism. This includes the UnidosUS High School Democracy Project, a six-lesson high school curriculum that delves into the political process, explaining how to get registered to vote if you’re eligible, and teaching young people how to become engaged in how our government runs at every level. The goal is to make sure eligible students have the knowledge and tools to be able to register and vote as soon as they turn 18—and that this become a part of their regular classroom experience.
Geoff Trujillo has been a teacher at UnidosUS Affiliate East Austin College Prep for the past three years, where he has helped implement the curriculum along with fellow teacher Jacqueline Vidal. His students recently took part in a week of action as we get closer to the Texas voter registration deadline of October 9. They participated in a mock election, and those who are U.S. citizens and 18-years-old were able to register using the UnidosUS Become a Voter app.
Trujillo says that some students were hesitant about participating in the curriculum because they thought it would be boring or useless. But they soon had an epiphany, understanding what this opportunity means—and many became enthusiastic about voting.
The inflammatory rhetoric from the administration has made many students feel unwelcome in their own country. This has led some young people to not want to be involved in the political process. But the attacks have galvanized other students, including DREAMers. They themselves cannot vote but are encouraging their peers who are U.S. citizens to make sure to vote.
REFLECTIONS FROM STUDENTS
- “I want my voice to be heard and my vote can count for my family who isn’t able to participate in voting. I am excited about voting this November and I want to first research the candidates carefully and make the right choice.”
- “Voting is important because I live here and I want the right decisions made for our country by elected officials. I’m excited because I am 18 and I feel like a real adult because I can vote and my voice matters!”
- “I want to vote because we need to act now and make sure things are fair and equal for everyone. I am excited about being 18 and voting for the first time!”
Nearly one million Latinos turn 18 year, and it’s important that they have the opportunity to use their vote and their voice at the ballot box. That’s why Trujillo and Vidal’s efforts to get students to the polls is so important, and it’s why UnidosUS launched the Power of 18 campaign, which is aimed at mobilizing eligible youth to register to vote and go to the polls on Election Day.
“All students need to go out and vote, it makes a difference,” Trujillo says.
By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS