I am about to turn 17 in the midst of some of
the most influential people in the nation and the world at the Democratic National
Convention in Denver. That's a heck of a way to celebrate a birthday!
weeks now, I've been briefing with my news team at Children's PressLine (CPL),
brainstorming questions and debating with my fellow news reporters and editors
about what issues are the most prominent and relevant to ask about. Mandatory
healthcare, gun control, adequate sex ed in schools- these are just some of the
many kid-related issues we plan on talking to politicians about.
days, fun parties
Our days at the convention are going to be long. From
getting as many interviews as we can on the floor of the convention to covering
late night parties thrown by lobbyists and caucuses, we will be conducting most
of our interviews on the "walk and talk" as they call it.
The fact is,
many politicians and fellow media-makers may not take us seriously. We know the
challenges we face as youth journalists and we want to be prepared for whatever
the DNCC throws at us.
Supporters of the Democratic Party are coming from
all over the nation to cheer on Barack Obama and other Democratic politicians.
I'll be there to get the scoop on whether today's politicians are acknowledging
Democrats need to listen to young peopleThis election's
Democratic candidate Barack Obama represents big changes in America's traditional
society. Decades ago, the prospect of a presidential candidate of color would
have seemed impossible. But this time around, younger generations are voting and
a young, bi-racial president is not so unforeseeable. Many young people are looking
up to Obama as their hero, and I'll be at the DNCC to represent their hopes and
concerns when I interview politicians and media-makers.
Youth DO have a voice.
We are part of the political process even if we can't vote. We are 26% percent
of this country and today's political system doesn't properly represent us.
Denver, I will ask if kids are being acknowledged in the bills that today's politicians
support. What are politicians doing to support the children of immigrants or make
sure all kids have health insurance? Have politicians taken into consideration
how the housing crisis or the price of higher education affects kids? Almost all
of the issues that will be addressed in the conventions pertain to kids in some
shape or form, and I want to make sure that our government officials make those
connections. Some of Barack Obama's policies seem beneficial for kids, like making
healthcare mandatory for all children, but where is he going to find the money
to make these policies reality?
It feels good to know you're being
heard I've been working with Children's PressLine since I was 10 years old-
as a little fifth grader I interviewed the former Ambassador of Iraq- and it's
still a wonderful sensation to know you're being heard.
Journalism has taken
me to a variety of incredible political events like the Republican National Convention
and Democratic National Convention in 2004. I snuck backstage to get interviews
with John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz. "I don't think children are really
given much of a role in our society, not an acknowledged role. We don't ask kids
to think beyond themselves in a fun way, and children get hit with so many bad
things they see on TV: wars, abuse," she said.
At a party in New York
during the Republican Convention, I questioned then Senator of Pennsylvania Rick
Santorum about federal education policies and the harassment faced by gay students.
He said he was having trouble answering our questions because he wasn't "an
This time around, I know I am going to get blown off by a
politician here and there, but the 2008 DNCC will give me the chance to bring
the most important youth issues to light and demand more beneficial changes for
kids. More than anything, I will be covering the conventions to remind today's
politicians that youth are more than the future; we are also the present.
article is made possible by the generous support of the Arsalyn Foundation (www.arsalyn.org).