Teenagers and young adults need a place to find their political voice. YouthNoise provides that place. It is a social networking place for young people to create social change. They tell young people to “Throw down your keyboards, stomp on those mousey pointers, and make that eternal text-ticker-typeface come alive! Seize control of the media, oust the powerbrokers, and commandeer true authority.” Ginger Thompson, the CEO for YouthNoise said, “Most young people practice armchair activism. They believe in a better world but are not given an outlet to make a difference. YouthNoise provides an important forum for young people to convert idealism into action.”

When you visit the YouthNoise website you will see right away why it makes moving from armchair activism to action so easy. YouthNoise instantly engages the visitor with the debate of the week. Read the debate and then post your own comments. Need more information to form your opinion? YouthNoise provides links for further research. No matter what the issue you will find a discussion on the topic and places to learn more. Linnea Nasman, a twenty-year-old University of California student who has moved from a YouthNoise user to a content producer for the site said, “The NOISEboards let me speak with young people around the globe about the latest political and social issues. I’ve vented my frustrations about the tobacco industry, human rights issues, the conflict in Iraq, and the quality of American public schools.” Nineteen-year-old Pima Community College student, Brian Doose, stumbled upon the site when doing research. “I saw teenagers discussing different social issues on the message board and wanted to jump in, so I registered with the site. Since then, I’ve used YouthNoise to learn about new subjects, including major religions of the world, and discuss elections and politics.” Brian went on to say, “It’s fair to say YouthNoise got me far more interested in politics. I was sort of forced to think about different stuff that I hadn’t thought about before. The biggest thing is that it just keeps you thinking about different topics and makes you feel involved. Teenagers need a lot more involvement.”

Decided this is an issue you care about; want to make a difference? The Take Action section will get you started. Find an organization to join or use their ToolKits to do it yourself. The Lend a Hand Toolkit will help you start a project, recruit volunteers, and publicize your event. The YouthNoise Raise It & Donate It Toolkit will help you choose a cause, create a fundraiser, and get donations. The YouthNoise Take Action Toolkit will help you to Start a petition, arrange a protest, walkout or sit-in, and tell you how to testify before Congress. In the Legislative Action Center just by entering your zip code, you can find who your elected officials and local media are and how to contact them. You can find information about local issues and legislation, elections and candidates. Linnea Nasman said, “YouthNoise gives me the opportunity to spread the word about what I do outside the YouthNoise Web site and allows me to teach others what it means to be a global citizen, express yourself, and take charge on issues I care about to make a difference. I don’t need to solve huge, impenetrable problems, but instead I can work on things that are significant in my life and my community.”

By sharing information with each other, young people have the opportunity to evaluate and form their own opinions. Ginger Thomson said, “As one of the only true user generated youth media outlets, YouthNoise encourages young people around the globe to share events, culture and ideas with each other directly. By featuring only user generated content, we have effectively created a politically media outlet for youth to discuss social issues and receive news, opinion, and events through a familiar channel and voice that is devoid of gatekeepers and agendas. Each channel on the network includes blogs that host debates and allow users to upload photos and text to post along with their entries.” With more than 113,000 registered users from all fifty states and more than 170 countries, young people can expect to find lots of diversity. Sixteen-year-old Natan Quist, joined YouthNoise when he was fourteen. “YouthNoise was perfect for me because the NOISEboards allow you to be yourself and say what you really want, even if you cannot say it to your family and friends. I knew that I was gay when I joined YouthNoise, yet I had told almost no one, but then I began to express my thoughts on the NOISEboards and my experience with the site led me to start my schools first Gay-Straight Alliance. Gay youth have a perspective that needs to be heard, but to often, there is no outlet YouthNoise provides that outlet and a place for me to express my opinions. I was completely out of the closet four months later and attribute my honesty with myself and the people around me to YouthNoise.” The opportunity for young people to network with others allows them to see they are not as different as they think they are, someone else is feeling the same thing. YouthNoise plans to expand the Showcase to allow users to post poetry and multimedia submissions, including radio broadcasts, short film productions, music videos and more. Allowing users different ways to express themselves allows everyone to find a voice. As YouthNoise says their lifeblood is, “The multitude of voices—exceeding the decibel level of an F5 tornado—emerging from a robust community of young people expressing views, taking action, and initiating change.”

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