Anthony Mendez is a former Generation Citizen student and a senior at the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports, in the Bronx, NY. After being inspired at Civics Day last fall, Anthony reached out to GC’s Executive Director to inquire about more ways to stay involved. He has since joined forces with the grassroots “Teens on Board” campaign, of which GC has been a leading supporter, which is working to amend state law to allow 16- and 17-year olds to serve on NYC community boards. Last Tuesday, Anthony and other campaign members traveled to Albany to lobby State Senators and State Assemblymen to support their legislation (AO2448 and S04142). Below are his thoughts on the experience.
To attend a lobbying trip with no prior knowledge of what “lobbying” even means is pretty scary. My body was trembling as I thought of what I was supposed to say to advocate for Teens on Board. Yet, reaching out to Generation Citizen was probably the best decision I’ve ever made, and going to Albany was a life-changing experience. All told, I’m elated though that I was able to attend and to learn how politics works, from the inside.
In Albany, our group of young people sat on the Assembly floor and was introduced to the body by one of our bill’s sponsors, Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa. We then spent the afternoon rehearsing our facts and presentations before sitting down with Assemblymembers and their staff to discuss the Teens on Board campaign. Being able to speak to Assembly Members and advocate for something that can benefit NYC is something mindboggling. I feel much more confident with public speaking and in knowing that people regardless of age will take to time to listen, if I just speak up. We even dropped in on my own Assemblyman, Luis Sepúlveda, and he took the time to sit down with us and offer his support for the campaign.
All my life I just dreamed of changing the world. Until Albany, I never realized how possible that can be. Many people tend to believe they can’t make a difference because they’re just one person. I’ll gladly give you a speech on how wrong those people are. I have never felt so confident that anybody can make a difference regardless of age or race. I went from knowing nothing at all about politics to realizing that I want to be an activist, and knowing that with Generation Citizen my journey is just beginning.
Generation Citizen is a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 tax exempt organization which does not endorse candidates; our goal is to engage our staff, participants, and stakeholders in political and civic action on issues that matter to them personally and in their communities. The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the writer alone and do not reflect the opinions of Generation Citizen.