Youth of the nation

Inger McDowell is youth organizer for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

NYAP’s upcoming events include hosting a Rock-the-Vote event 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Ark-a’ik, 555 E. Fourth St.

A socially conscious group of young activists has stepped recently into the limelight of northern Nevada’s progressive movement. They are all under the age of 25 and are well on their way to becoming the next generation of movers and shakers on the progressive front in Nevada.

The group calls itself the Nevada Young Activist Project, and its sole mission is to create an empowered youth community enriched by social and political awareness and involvement. It is the state’s first umbrella progressive youth organization to address critical issues involving the youth community. These young people hope to take the lead in making positive social changes for youth, youth of color and those with non-traditional sexual identities in northern Nevada.

NYAP was created in January 2001 by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. The Project wants to change the way young people throughout Nevada participate in the progressive movement. By “progressive,” we mean empowering youth with tools and resources to change the system to make it more youth friendly.

Dozens of NYAP youth have come together to promote their own projects and issues and to work together in an effort to give young people throughout northern Nevada a voice and a vehicle to get their issues heard. The Project provides young people with workshops, training, and other essential resources necessary to build youth power.

The project’s most recent events include hosting a citywide youth dance in February with the local gay and lesbian community center and putting together a workshop on organizing for local youth agencies. Additionally, NYAP has placed youth interns in PLAN member groups such as A Rainbow Place, ACLU, Great Basin Mine Watch and the Nevada Empowered Women’s Project. These paid positions teach youth leadership and work skills, as well as prepare them for careers in social change activism.

NYAP seeks to educate the 46,327 peers that reside in Washoe County on a number of hot issues ranging from youth homelessness to sexually transmitted disease prevention to voter registration to Question 2, the anti-gay-marriage referendum.

The Project’s overall goal is to build a progressive youth base that’s strong enough to directly impact statewide social and political movements. Exposing young people directly to issues that are important to them lets them “get their hands dirty.” The Project continually works to ensure a vision that focuses on building bridges across class, race, gender and sexual orientation.

NYAP’s upcoming events include a Rock-the-Vote event from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sept. 21 at Ark-a-ik. Also, the NYAP crew will be showing up all over town to register youth voters. We need volunteers to help us at the UNR campus, Hispanic Heritage Day and a community event being hosted by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and the Reno-Sparks NAACP on Sept. 20.

We invite you to become a part of our growing organization. As Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world."