The Importance of Youth in Neighborhood Councils

This weekend I got the amazing opportunity to give a speech in front of 850+ Neighborhood Council Participants, City Officials such as Council Members, Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas. It was such an honor to know that they all really do care about the importance of youth in Neighborhood Councils. I believe it’s important to share my speech and experience with others. Enjoy!

Good Morning! 

Let me open this morning by getting to the point:

There is no age too young to get involved in your community. I repeat. No. age. too. young. .  I was told….if you want Self Esteem, do Esteemable Acts.  That is exactly what happened to me at Civic Youth, at Mayor’s Youth Council and by joining the Board of my Neighborhood Council, –   I learned the value of doing esteemable acts.

My name is Lily Larsen, I’m 17 and I’ve been an activist since I was five. It’s true. My mom took me to the Million Man March of 2005 and I’ve never turned back.

In kindergarten, when we had to think of  words that matched the alphabet,  when we got to X, my word was:  Xenophobia.  My teacher didn’t believe I knew what it meant. I did. I  learned it at the Million Man March.

Fast Forward to 10th Grade. Among the many civic programs in our city, I was  delighted to join the EmpowerLA Civic Youth Leadership Academy! We meet right here in this  room. Here is where I got hands-on experience  generating community events:  such as “Clean Ups” around the city.  Here is where I saw my ideas and others’ being  taken seriously and put into action. That feels amazing.  “Making a difference” is no longer is a theory to me.  This is a place where you can truly  “Be the Change”

If you are a teen in this audience, and you have a rebellious spirit, what better way to channel it – than become a youth activist, a civic leader, a community organizer?  It’s the perfect solution to teen angst. 🙂 Trust me. I have plenty of angst!  But honestly, it was by doing this work, that I found my passion.  So I started my own movement called Adolescent Activist.  

I urge you. Get involved the in the world around you.  I hear pe0ple say “Youth are the Future”. I disagree. Youth are the Now. And there is no time to wait around till we’re 18.  Be the Change now.  Get your voices and ideas out there:   

Adults in power need our minds, our lack of cynicism , our fearlessness – our  forward thinking input   – they best listen – or they’re going to keep getting the same thing they always get which is change at a snail’s pace.  

There is no waiting around. I encourage all youth to join their Neighborhood Council. Join Civic Youth, Join anything that’s mission is to serve.

Let’s come together and make change for the highest good of our neighborhoods, our city , our state, our country and our planet. Thank You. 🙂

Posted by Lily Larsen

I am a 17-year-old​ activist/arts advocate and have been participating in marches, protests and petitions since I was 5 years old. I serve on Mayor Garcetti's Youth Council for South LA. And have generated a petition to ban factory farming in California with over 55,000 signatures. I organize community events and get teens like me connected with social justice issues and activism all over LA.

3 thoughts on “The Importance of Youth in Neighborhood Councils”

  1. Hi Lily,

    What an incredible website and impressive body of work! We got the chance to meet for a second at the Neighborhood Council Congress, my name is John DiGregorio and I am the VP of Communications and Outreach Chair for our the NC Budget Advocates. I sent an email to your mother a couple weeks ago, but hadn’t heard back so I wanted to reach out directly. Instagram will be my last resort!

    I would really like to discuss the work you’ve been doing so we can piggy back on it and get more young people involved in our NC System. I am going to be speaking to 500 students this Friday 10/6 at the Valor Academy (Panorama HS) in Panorama City to kick off this project.

    Aside from collaborating on youth engagement, I would really like to feature you on our new web-series ‘Faces of Change’. We’re going to be highlighting activists and community leaders around the City and I think the work you do is incredibly compelling and can continue to be a catalyst for positive change.

    Please, if you’ve got any interest, shoot me and email and we can continue the conversation! Have a great day!

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