for Taking Action
Choose a problem. You might
want to work on improving conditions
or issues you observe in your
community or that you hear about
in the news. You could also choose
a problem you learned about through
a school course or your own reading.
Finding a problem isnt hard,
but staying focused on one problem
is. Try writing out a definition
of exactly what you want to address.
Deal with just one problem at
Research the problem. Survey your school or community
to find out about the problem and how people feel about
it. Call officials for information. Write letters. Read
newspapers, magazines, and reports on the issue. See Action
Activity 5 for more on research and planning.
Brainstorm possible solutions and choose one. Brainstorm
everything you can think of, however zany. Then choose one
or two solutions that seem the most possible and likely
to make the most difference.
Build coalitions of support. Find as many people as
possible who are concerned about the problem and agree with
your solution. Survey your community. Ask teachers, officials,
community activists, and young people. The more people on
your team, the more power you will have to make a difference.
Identify your opposition. Find out who the people and
organizations are who oppose your solution. They may not
be the "bad guys" but people with different opinions.
Consider meeting with your opponents: you might be able
to work out a compromise. At the least you will understand
each others point of view. In every case, always be
polite and respectful of other opinions.
Advertise. Let as many people as possible know about
the problem you are trying to solve and your proposed solution.
Newspapers, radio, and television are usually interested
in stories of youth action. Some TV and radio stations offer
free air time for worthy projects. Write a letter to the
editor (See Action Activity 5, The Power of the Pen). The
more people who know about what you are doing, the more
who may want to support you.
Raise money. This isnt essential, but sometimes
you can be more effective with money to spend toward your
Carry out your solution. Make a list of all the steps
you need to take, and once youve prepared yourself
for action, just do it!
Evaluate. Is your plan working? How do you know? Try
to define some indications for what progress means. Are
some efforts effective and others not? Have you tried everything?
Keep thinking creatively about how to solve the problem.
Dont give up. Problem solving means eliminating
all the things that dont work until you find something
that does. Dont pay much attention to people who try
to tell you that the problem cant be solved. Keep
on keeping on!
Adapted from Barbara A. Lewis,The Kid's Guide to Social
Action (Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Press, 1991).