The United States of America. A country where the government exists to serve the people. As citizens and inhabitants of the United States, we are lucky to be given voices throughout decision-making processes in our nation. It is the people who decide who has power in our governmental structure. For this reason, it is crucial that we, as a united front, stay connected with those we put in power!
One of my first assignments as a Bank of America Student Leader Intern at MMP was to write a testimony for bill S.27/H.118 An Act Relative to Children in the Care, Protection, and Custody of the Commonwealth. This was a bill regarding the implementation of life-coaching and mentoring programs into the foster care system. My duties included doing ample amounts of research to support the passing of this bill as well as picking apart the bill itself. Upon submitting the written testimony, my supervisor and I went to sit in on the bill’s hearing. We traveled to the Massachusetts State House and listened to our legislators speak on an issue we care deeply about. In fact, along with submitting the written testimony, my supervisor ended up giving an oral testimony as well! It was an experience during which I saw the people’s voice in action.
Unfortunately, not many people engage with their elected officials. I was surprised to see only a handful of people sitting in at the hearing. Moreover, the number of youth engaging with elected officials IS EVEN LESS.
The question comes down to what you can do, especially as youth, to work with elected officials…
- Write letters and emails to your legislator… or any legislator who can have an influence. This is the best way to have your voice heard since legislators want you to get in contact with them!
- Visit the state house/official building of your local government branch. Face-to-face interactions with officials can make the greatest impact. But, don’t be discouraged if you meet with staff. In most cases, the staff have the ear of the legislator and are knowledgeable about the issues you care about.
- Sit-in on different hearings that are of interest and importance to you. It is the best way to build relationships with legislators. After a certain amount of time, you will become a familiar face to the elected officials.
- Submit written or oral testimonies! This is the best way to directly talk to your legislator in an environment where they HAVE TO LISTEN!
- Stay updated! Follow the news and what’s going on… ALWAYS stay in the know.
Go out there and speak!
Erin Cesmeli is MMP's 2019 Bank of America Student Leader. #bankofamericastudentleaders