Students in Politics (SIP)

Uniting and conquering through education and debate.

Photo of Elijah Snyder
3 1

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

12/11/2002

Where are you located:

Ohio: Chesapeake 45619
West Virginia: Charleston

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagtam-Elijah16Snyder, Snapchat-Elijah16Snyder

Date Started

March/14/2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

Following the Parkland shooting, there was a lot of discussion going on in my school. Through discussion with my classmates, I discovered that many of them were uninformed on the incident itself and the circumstances surrounding it. As the discussion continued over the coming weeks, I saw they were also uninformed about the policies that correlated with their opinions. They knew what they wanted to happen, but they did not know how to or care about initiating action . This issue was made even more personal by a threat made at my school causing a lockdown for over an hour. During this I thought about the issues that American youth face and how to create a platform for kids to speak about these things and promote the change we want to see. When I saw students of different beliefs organized together for one cause I knew that it was possible to stand unified.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Today's youth is very politically opinionated but very uninformed on the issues they care about. They rarely turn their belief into action. This issue is prevalent due to an unintentional promotion of personal political belief by adults because politics are "hard to talk about" and "uncomfortable." Students bring a young, fresh approach to the new issues facing their generation. Students need a forum of open discussion and a platform to share on.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

By creating an open discussion of political issues and ideas in a controlled yet casual environment where students can lead the discussion or simply come in and listen. We want to teach students how to debate and discuss issues respectfully, provide a place to promote a consensus of teenage ideas, help students unify for common results that are important to them, and create an environment where students can discuss what they care about where they will no be judged, but valued for what they have to say.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

The meeting begins with a brief introduction to the discussion topic. This creates a comfortable atmosphere for the students. Following this, a presentation of research and facts about the topic is given by a research team of students, chosen by their fellow SIP members. After the presentation, students with prior knowledge will be able to share what they know. Students already informed on this issue are encouraged to share expertise at this time. This will lead into a period where students dissect the problem and look at the credibility of information on the topic. Students will then engage in an in-depth discussion about the problems surrounding the topic and possible solutions and their consequences. The students then have the opportunity to take a stance on the problem, discuss common goals regarding the issue, and then use SIP as a platform to take action on the issue in question.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

The difference in our approach to student political involvement is that SIP has no political agenda. The goal is to educate students about politics in a club setting and teaching them how to formulate a strong political opinion, debate, and act on it. Our unconventional philosophy that we have is that different ideas do not divide us, but create depth. In utilizing this philosophy we hope to create a safe environment for students to communicate and develop ideas that will reshape our future. Through all of this we want to build their confidence to fight for what they believe in, properly.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Our hope is to create a space for students to become educated on issues important to them, as well as create a way for students to unite on what is important to them to make a change in the world. The hope is that a small group of teens could gain the support of their peers through facts and realism, and then spark a movement that could do anything from changing a school dress code to adding an amendment to the constitution. If nothing more, we would like to create a space for education and discussion for a population that is very rarely taken seriously: students.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Through the next year, we would like to expand SIP within the schools of our team members by having regular meetings and meeting spaces for weekly meetings. We would also like to expand to other schools in our areas, forging relationships with school systems that we have no current team members in. We would also like to be able to pay our supervisors, teachers who stay in their room or supervise through their lunch and planning periods so that we, a student-run group, can conduct meetings. This will take both fundraising and donations. We would also like a website to expand our reach and to make our resources available to other students nationwide. As we grow, we would also like to make a forum for SIP members nationwide to communicate on.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

We will need to build a reputation for ourselves and gain the trust and contacts we need to expand. We also need to gain the support of other students to operate and attend SIP meetings. We will need funding to operate our website and begin paying our supervisors, as well as creating a way to mobilize SIP members for the common causes they decide upon.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

Through personal interaction and even simply listening to others we have found that we boosted the confidence of a few students to say what they believe, and we have inspired others to talk about issues important to them with friends and at home. We have even had a couple say they went home and read about issues because of something we created a discussion about. We hope to spread this effect as far as we can. We would be open to any way and any help we can get to spread our goals; confidence, the ability to unify, and a passion for education on prevalent issues. SIP is all about young people, and anyway we can give these brilliant students a voice is something we'd be willing to try! We would also like to have our members active in their communities and global communities around the world, and we would love to work with other organizations to achieve a better world for all. SIP is about character too, and we would be honored to build it with others.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Low-income community
  • Other

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

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Photo of Carson McBain
Team

There is such a strong need for creating spaces for open civic discussion, especially when the country is so politicly divided and a significant portion of the population didn't even bother to vote in the presidential election, so bravo to you for championing this initiative! As you develop this concept further, I would ask you to think about ways you can take the influence beyond the classroom and out into society, as it is not just students who need this influence. Best of luck to you!

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