Everyone wants to be passionate about something...But sometimes it’s hard to know what that something is.
Building skills as an advocate begins with a simple question; “What specific change do I want to see in the world?” Starting with a specific change is recommended. When you start with too broad a goal, such as ‘changing lives’,” it can be hard to see progress. When you start with a specific goal of ‘providing more psycho-social support staff in schools’, you can tell how much progress you’ve made over time.
Sometimes, the hardest part of advocacy is deciding what NOT to focus on. Knowing where to put your precious time and energy is imperative and setting specific goals is a foundational step. Your chosen issue could deal with advocacy on the highest level, on an international stage, or could be a grassroots initiative within your community. One is not better or more important than the other, but they do require different advocacy approaches.
Get involved: Join a school club, do something at your place of worship, start meeting with people in your neighbourhood, whatever it is, just start somewhere. The more you do, the more you will be exposed to and the more you will come to discover what your passion is.
Pick an issue close to your heart: being emotionally invested in a cause will keep you motivated so pick something that is important to you.
Don't try to do too much: decide on a few priorities and keep your actions really focused. You might have a general interest in children, but that's too broad. Instead, concentrate on something specific like child labour or education.
Be even more specific: once you've identified the issue you are interested in, narrow it down even further!
Here are some great examples:
Education: What about discrimination against girls in education?
Child labour: What about children working long hours in your community?
Right to play: What about children not having a space to play sport?
Emergencies: What about children needing special support and care during a crisis?
It might also be helpful to think about your personal advocacy statement. Try completing the sentence below:
When I think about ____________________ (a topic, issue, or policy I’d like to change), I feel ____________________ , because ________________________________________.”
Interested in doing advocacy? Read more about how you can champion change through advocacy here!
Also have a look at the Youth Advocacy Resources Hub for more tips, tricks and tools to help you along your advocacy journey!