With the extremely important midterm elections approaching, 15-year-old Ofzerna from Northern California knew she had to get involved.
Ofzerna has been vegetarian since she was 4 years old (even though her parents aren’t) and is a passionate advocate for women’s rights and gay rights, among other causes she cares a lot about. She’s not old enough to vote, but that doesn’t mean she can’t get involved in the election!
Ofzerna attended our California camp in 2013, and we interviewed her this week to find out more about how young people can be involved in the political process, and hopefully inspire you to get more active too! You can get involved with a local candidate your support, or make calls from home to influence important races around the country.
YEA: You’re not yet old enough to vote, yet you’ve been very active in trying to make a difference in this election. What inspired you to get involved in this type of activism? Why are you supporting the candidate(s) you’re volunteering or interning for?
Ofzerna: What inspired me to get involved in this election is my belief that working within the government through the political process we can effect positive change. I am volunteering for Tim Sbranti for State Assembly because the race is very close, Tim is a great guy who supports the same positions as me, and his opponent is a very anti-union Republican. In addition, I am volunteering for NARAL Pro-Choice California because I think it is vital that we preserve women’s access to safe abortions and support candidates who share that belief.
YEA: What are some of the things you are doing in your role on the campaign?
Ofzerna: Some things that I do as a campaign volunteer are walk precincts, going door to door talking to voters, as well as phone banking and making sure people remember to vote.
YEA: Youth under 18 don’t get to vote and so don’t have a direct say to influence our leaders. Yet, what responsibility do you think our government has to young people?
Ofzerna: I think that the government has a responsibility to young people to ensure that they get quality educations, are in safe environments, and are adequately provided for. Beyond this, everything the government and our leaders do has a direct effect on the future we young people will inherit and they have to make sure they don’t mess things up too badly for us.
YEA: What have you learned about our political process or activism in general from your experience on this campaign?
Ofzerna: I have learned a lot about which politicians are genuine and care about the people they serve and those who only care about the advancement of their career. Volunteering for campaigns has also shown me just how much work goes into small, grassroots campaigns and confirmed for me that I want to major in political science and continue to be involved in politics.
YEA: What other types of activism have you done or do you do?
Ofzerna: Other than volunteering for campaigns, I have interned for a LGBTQ youth non-profit called LYRIC, started an LGBTQ support group in my school, created a successful petition to a large company, and organized a protest at a Hobby Lobby store opening.
YEA: What would you say to other people considering getting involved in activism?
Ofzerna: I would say that getting involved is incredibly rewarding and worth doing.
YEA: Between school, homework, and everything else on your plate, how do you make time to volunteer?
Ofzerna: It can be challenging to fit volunteering in since I have high school classes and take community colleges classes in addition, but I fit volunteering in by making it a priority and planning ahead about when I want to do it so that I can get my work done in advance and not have to stress.
YEA: How has YEA Camp helped you in your activism?
Ofzerna: YEA Camp has helped me in my activism by giving me the confidence that I can create change and teaching me how to go about doing it.
We are so proud of Ofzerna and all of our other campers for the amazing ways they are making a difference in their community and our world! Let’s all step up our game and make an even bigger difference!
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