Unapologetically Outspoken

By Cathy Sun, Irvine, CA

I’ve been in rooms full of policymakers, legislators, and elected officials, and more often than not, I’ve been the only person under 25 years old. Whenever I advocate, lobby and campaign, I hear the same condescending remark, sometimes phrased in lighthearted manner, other times in a more derisive tone.

“What do you know about the real world? You’re in high school.”

My opinions, ideas and concerns are dismissed and discounted because of my age. Somehow, people assume I don’t have the mental capacity to understand real issues.

What they don’t realize is that these issues affect our lives in the same way it affects theirs, and even more so, because these issues shape the future we will inherit. The voices of young people are not heard nearly enough at the decision-making table.

Youth will be most heavily impacted by climate change and environmental damage. Our future is the Earth’s future. We have such a major stake in this, and that is often overlooked because we are thought of as too young to make a difference. We understand more than anyone the irreparable problems and irreversible impacts climate change is causing.

I care about the future of this planet, the future of my generation, and the future of generations to come after me. I am unapologetically outspoken, and will continue to advocate, lobby and campaign for a better world.

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