January 19, 2009
By Risa Katz, Solon, OH

Flash back to early-June, Nearly 100 of the Ohio Northern Region’s new members were attending their first convention at Hiram House Camp, learning about the organization and what it takes to be a leader. Kids in groups of about 20, shuffled through the double doors to the dining hall to meet, none other than me, at the front of the room. Ordinarily, talking in front of a group of 14-15 year olds would seem to be an arduous task at hand for someone only 2 years older, but these kids had already been through the entire weekend’s activities before attending my rotation on a topic that may have seemed all to irrelevant early that Sunday morning. My rotation was all about BBYO’s new advocacy program called My 2 cents For Change, which helps kids who are too young to vote, to get their ideas out there and heard by some of our countries politicians. On the website, which I navigated through on a large white screen in front of the group, I explained that there are many topics, from war and genocide to poverty and homelessness, to choose from. The task at hand was to get all of these young teens thinking about world issues and some of the issues that will be coming up in the upcoming presidential election. I had to coax and persuade all of these wide-eyed kids from my community that being educated about the events and issues occurring around them was important and necessary to become a good leader. I encouraged kids to pick an issue that they felt passionate about and write possible solutions a future president on a note card. After, we all shared our thoughts and ideas about issues, all of us practicing our skills of persuasion, trying to make others see things our way and allowing ourselves to accept other opinions. Looking back, I don’t feel that I would do anything different, other than have a follow up program to the one held at the Josh Mendelson Ait/Mit New Member weekend in June. I feel that the new members I spoke to really started to think about what’s going on around them and how it could possibly affect them. I also think I got them thinking about what they can do to advocate change and reminded them that we are the future.

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