Highlights from the 2021 Teen Advocacy Council Virtual Capitol Hill Week
For three days in July, the Girls Inc. National Teen Advocacy Council (TAC) participated in a virtual Capitol Hill Week packed with lobby training and learning sessions, relationship building, and virtual meetings with girls’ congressional representatives. This year’s cohort of youth advocates included 11 teens ranging from 14 to 18 years old, representing eight U.S. states.
Connection Through Stories
On their second day, the TAC leaders met with congressional offices to discuss three areas of their choosing: mental health, racial justice, and sexual health and safety. Kiran from Girls Inc. of Sarasota met with Representative Quigley’s office about the Youth Mental Health Services and Suicide Prevention Act, and she met with Senator Padilla’s office about the Mental Health Services for Students Act. Reflecting on her experience, Kiran shared that, “Today taught me that no matter how much you can prepare with the facts for presentations, nothing beats genuine, human connection through stories. It humanizes major social issues and is the backbone of true change.”
The Power of Youth Voices
Laura from Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, Lila from Girls Inc. of Santa Fe, and Annie from Girls Inc. of the Island City met with Representative Carbajal’s and Senator Luján’s offices regarding the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act (REAHYA). During the girls’ meeting with Representative Carbajal, he agreed to cosponsor REAHYA (and he signed on shortly thereafter!), marking a significant highlight and memorable moment for the teens.
Mia from Girls Inc. of Santa Barbara, August from Girls Inc. of Central Alabama, Anjali from Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia and Southern NJ, and Adrienne from Girls Inc. of Long Island met with Representative Jayapal’s and Senator Casey’s offices respectively regarding the Strength in Diversity Act and the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act.
The takeaway—from the educational sessions with Hill staffers, with a TAC alumna, with Girls Inc. national staff, and from the virtual lobby meetings that the TAC led—was clear: The power of youth stories and voices is what moves the needle forward on important issues in our communities and nationwide. We commend our youth advocates for their courage in sharing their stories and advocating for what they believe in. Through efforts like these, we make progress in creating a more equitable world for girls and all youth.
Learn more about Girls Inc. Advocacy initiatives here.