SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — They may get a bad rap from time to time but today’s youth and young adults are paying attention to the world around them and taking action.
Attend a march or protest and you’ll see a lot of young faces. Young Americans are now signing more petitions, following campaigns and attending marches.
Scroll through social media, you’ll find members of the younger generations raising their voices.
“We need young people, both in the community and within the Capitol saying like, ‘hey, what’s up, we’re watching you.’ Our generation wants to be a part of what is happening because a lot of these things you guys are making decisions on, it’s going to affect us directly. We deserve a say,” Founder & CEO, South Dakota Youth Activism Elliott Morehead said.
17-year-old Elliott Moorehead is no stranger to speaking up on matters important to them.
Earlier this year, they went in front of South Dakota lawmakers to testify against House Bill 1080 which is a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for minors.
“And I was just looking around as I was testifying and being like, I’m the only kid here and I’m kind of the only kid with an experience that actually this is affecting,” Morehead said.
That was one of the reasons Moorehead created the group South Dakota Youth Activism.
“South Dakota Youth Activism is a platform that empowers young activists like myself to stand up for the rights of LGBTQ, Bi-Poc and disabled South Dakotans. We do this through education, legislative action and community engagement,” Morehead said.
The group officially became a non-profit on September 1st of this year.
“We’re celebrating the fact that now we’re official, you know. We aren’t just a group of kids, we’re actually a group of kids on a paper at least, right (laughs),” Morehead said.
South Dakota Youth Activism is a statewide organization with members ranging from kids in middle school to adults in college.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve been able to enjoy is kind of learning from other members of the organization itself just because we all qualify in different ways and bring different kind of materials and knowledge to the table,” Antoinette Bita, president of SDYA, said.
A recent program spearheaded by South Dakota Youth Activism was the creation of 150 self-care packages in both Sioux Falls and Rapid City.
“And there are three types of self-care packages. One is mental health, the other is sexual health and the other is menstrual health. So each box is different and they go to places that people would use them. So we’ve worked with Planned Parenthood with this, we worked with Lost and Found, Transformation Project as well,” Morehead said.