Perhaps it’s the recent pieces we’ve written about dynamo young activists — such as 12-year-old Thomas Ponce, who started an organization urging citizens to lobby for animals, and 16-year-old Abby Serfilippi, who is on a crusade to change the world, one craft project at a time — but young activists are on my mind lately. I am just so wildly inspired by kids and young people who possess (and act on) a passion for making the world a better, more just place.
That’s why I’m excited to tell you about the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture Fund Young Activist Award, offering a $6,000 prize to be divided between the winner and an organization of her or his choosing. Though Thomas and Abby are still a bit young to be considered for this award (nominees need to be between 18-26), they are certainly on the right trajectory for this kind of recognition.
Of course, the reason any of us fight for the animals is not because of recognition — rather, it’s because speaking up for animals is a moral imperative and we should each do our part in a way that works for us. But in a movement full of so many unsung heroes, perhaps there’s a young person in your life who you think could stand a little public praise? A pat on the back? A morale boost? A little extra cash?
The Young Activist Award “is presented each year to a young person (or persons) with a deep commitment to human rights and social justice and a proven ability to transform this commitment into effective action. The recipients should have demonstrated leadership ability, creativity, and integrity.” My favorite part of the judging criteria is this: “Preference will be given to candidates who have not been widely recognized and do not have personal privilege or a strong institutional base of support.” Nominations are due on June 30.
In skimming through the inspirational folks who have previously been given this prestigious award, I must say, it’s about time an animal advocate stepped up to the plate here. I know so many young adults who are unsung heroes, spending their weekends and nights campaigning for animal rights causes, leafleting, influencing their communities, and changing the world. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll nominate someone. Care to join me?