The first ever Youth Organizing and Policy Conference took place in Washington, D.C. from July 15-17 in conjunction with PPFA’s Organizing and Policy Summit, and PPRSR made a great showing with six Vox students, three InControl teen peer educators, and three staff members in attendance.
It’s hard to say what the best part of the trip was. For some of us, it was the informative workshop topics such as building campaigns, communicating with decision makers, and understanding the legislative process. For others it was getting to talk with Cecile Richards. For me, meeting Rep. Louise Slaughter was something I won’t forget anytime soon! What was exciting and empowering for all of us was being with over 450 likeminded people who were all fighting for a common goal: ensuring coverage for a full range of reproductive health benefits and making sure that women have access to trusted community health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
For me, two themes emerged during the trip. One of them was that personal stories about our relationship with Planned Parenthood as employees, volunteers and patients, are what make people listen. Certainly how we educate and converse with decision makers is important, but sometimes it is an individual story that sticks the strongest.
Second, decision makers like to think that youth don’t worry about health care and that assumption couldn’t be more wrong. I saw over 200 teenagers and college students who were passionate advocates for their own health care concerns in the health care reform process. With all the informative workshops and lobbying experience, the teens and young adults advocating with Planned Parenthood seemed empowered and energized.
The trip to D.C. couldn’t have been better, except maybe for our delayed flight on the way back! I think I speak for everyone in saying that we can’t wait to continue mobilizing for health care reform on our campuses and in our communities!