What do the nations of Somalia, Belarus, Croatia, China, Algeria, Vietnam, Lithuania, and Burkina Faso have that the United States of America does not? That’s right: every country on that list, and dozens more, have a National Youth Union. These NYUs are buildling solidarity and connectivity among young people throughout their countries. In turn, these connections build political, economic, and popular support at local and national levels.
A National Youth Union could galvanize popular support for issues affecting young people in all areas of the USA. That includes swaying voters to support youth programs. That includes stemming the tide of ephebiphobic media targeted against youth. That includes helping young people see their personal and social connections to other young people across the country and beyond the boundaries that seperate youth today.
Communities could benefit from organized, trained local chapters that work together to advocate for funding, policy, and other support for young people. These chapters could create a national force that parallels the AARP or Grey Panthers, and offer a powerful perspective and voice among generations that have been previously segregated by popular media, politicians, and even the organizations designed to serve them.
A National Youth Union could help American youth organizations develop a true sense of unity, especially in these times when foundations, government agencies, and other funding sources pit these organizations against one another in an endless battle for financial support. The NYU could be a gathering among youth-serving organizations from all fields to help develop a mass concensus and political standing that reinforces the central roles young people and their adult allies must play throughout their communities. Moreover, a National Youth Union in the USA might bring together so many divergent minds to build a powerful, tangible movement that can affect all young people.
I stand with the USA National Youth Union, and CommonAction is commiting its resources to developing this idea. Learn more at http://www.nationalyouthunion.org