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OWL hosts first Youth in Activism Day

Abby’s Angle

On May 1st, 2024, students from Open World Learning in St. Paul participated in its first Youth in Activism Day. 

This was Open World Learning’s (OWL) first Youth in Activism Day, focusing on activism topics from the school’s activism clubs such as the Black Student Union (BSU), Environmental Club, Feminist Club, and the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). In these clubs, students are able to talk about the issues surrounding the topics of their clubs and take action on it.

Two students are responsible for the creation of Youth in Activism Day: 8th grader Beatrice Cosgrove and 10th grader Margaret Moe. They first got the idea in February of this year when the two were talking about having a collaboration between the clubs they were in, Environmental Club for Margaret and Feminist Club for Beatrice. At first, they wanted to fundraise for both clubs before doing an event that would celebrate both clubs. However, the two decided to skip the fundraising and went straight into planning an event.

Originally, it was going to be a day-long event. However, that changed when the two started to talk about simplicity. “We realized that it would be much simpler to do an event during advisory and 4th period, especially because it was our first time planning something like this,” stated Cosgrove. So, the event changed from being all day to simply advisory and 4th period.

The event didn’t stay a collaboration between Environmental Club and Feminist Club for long. “As me and Margaret talked it over, we decided that we wanted to include all of the youth in activism clubs,” said Cosgrove on how OWL’s other activism clubs got involved. “Our big thing was that we wanted any youth in activism to achieve a sense of community and belonging within the world of activism, not just within Environmental and Feminist activism,” she continued.

So Cosgrove and Moe continued to plan the event, meeting a few times during each week and using that time to work together and do individual jobs. 

Their first job was to get approval of the event from administrative staff. “We contacted teachers and administrators to get approval and they then set up a meeting so we could get some extra support while planning,” Cosgrove stated, “They made a lot of very helpful suggestions and helped us plan the event more realistically with student interest in mind,” she continued.

After getting the event approved, they had to approve the spaces they wanted to have the event in, speakers and people who would do live performances. When all of that was done, it was time for Youth in Activism Day.

However, planning the event didn’t go without its challenges. “We struggled with getting everything done at time, especially since we had never done an event before. Although we left a lot of time for planning the event, sometimes we got caught up in schoolwork or extracurriculars and weren’t able to spend as much time on it as we wanted to,” said Cosgrove.

During Youth in Activism Day, students from the school, whether they were in an activism club or not, went to the school’s auditorium during their advisory where there were speeches and live performances from students in the community about activism. Students were then led outside the school, where they were instructed to create posters about activism topics they felt passionate about. The day ended with a panel of people involved in a club that collaborated in planning the event.

“In the future we are hoping to do another event on a larger scale, but this was just a way to figure out how to plan it and what we liked and what we didn’t like,” stated Cosgrove on the future of Youth in Activism Day. Ideas for next year’s Youth in Activism Day include having a topic around youth activism that connects all of the activism clubs at OWL, however, that is undecided.

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