ICUC’s youth organizing began in 2005, sparking a regional movement of young people who are empowered to make their voices heard within a society that often disregards their experiences. Following in the footsteps of many young leaders before them, ICUC youth have been advocating to be taken seriously as important agents of change for the past thirteen years. With roots in organizing against violence and centering student’s rights, generations of local high school students are learning how to mobilize their peers, stand up for their beliefs, and work towards common goals that will benefit their communities.
In this collective fight, young people are pushing against the belief that their opinions don’t matter because of their age. Contrary to popular belief, youth are experts on their school environments, the trauma in their communities, and have first-hand experience with the many ways they experience systematic oppression. Through ICUC, they exercise power by strategizing on specific issues that affect them; such as the implementation of mental health resources, the decriminalization of youth of color, and the access to better education. They also exercise power by registering their peers to vote and talking to voters in the area despite many of the youth leaders being below the general voting age. By engaging with their peers, political officials, and community members in this way, young people throughout San Bernardino and Riverside counties are shifting the narrative that their voice isn’t powerful and are, instead, claiming their rightful place within the political world.