“Young people in New Hampshire carry an incredible amount of political power,” said Abigail Colby (‘15), the Special Projects Coordinator at New Hampshire Youth Movement, and a former features editor of MOR. “I think the more we can get young people talking about issues and about how politicians aren’t addressing issues that really matter to young people, the more young people are going to hold politicians accountable and make sure that they are going to represent young people and our values.”
On Sunday, October 11, 2019, a presidential forum was scheduled to take place for people to speak to candidates and ask them questions, but it was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts, a regular occurrence at events that many candidates are invited to participate in. In place of the forum, the New Hampshire Youth Movement, a nonpartisan organization of young leaders who raise awareness about why voting matters, hosted an event at the Freedom Cafe. People could share experiences that have shaped their political ideas, which they had planned to tell at the forum. Real life situations and stories were shared, emphasizing the importance of who the next leaders are.
Tristram Patoine, a speaker at the event and a member of the New Hampshire Youth Movement, shared his story about how the opioid epidemic has affected his family. Growing up, he watched loved ones struggle with insufficient health care, this made Patoine passionate about electing a candidate that will provide universal health care.
Patoine said “I decided to come here and share my story because I feel that oftentimes when doing this work organized around politics and issues, we can feel very distant from the issues that are impacting our communities and that we’re only talking about candidates, specific policies, and statistics. I just feel that sharing stories is what really brings people together and creates a connection to these issues.”
At the event, speakers brought up topics including student debt, the climate crisis, mental health, gun control, and dependence on the government. Although the topics seemed to be unrelated, they were each a part of an overarching theme of perseverance. Hearing community members talk about the ways they’d personally been affected by these issues allowed listeners the chance to understand the speaker’s perspective.
“I think that there’s something to be said for when young people get to share these really personal stories with other young people. I think it’s very powerful and a very connecting experience to have, just to hear why young people are motivated to fight for issues that really matter to them on the deepest most personal level,” said Colby.
Quincy Abramson, a Field Organizer for the New Hampshire Youth Movement, said, “voting and getting out there and doing all these things actually makes an impact on these issues that are affecting you. It’s a really important way to ground us and why this work is so important and how actually every single person has a stake in it even if they don’t know it yet.”
Coming to events like this one makes people become more aware of the personal aspects of electing future leaders. People are given the opportunity to see other perspectives on important issues and struggles that they may not have realized before making connections with speakers.
“The more people we can talk to, the bigger and more effective our movement will be. And so, while we don’t always get the opportunities to share our stories as in depth as this […] having people thinking about their stories is really important. We can share snippets of those with every single person we talk to about voting,” said Abramson.
The goal of the event was for the speakers to inspire listeners and get them to think about what their own story is, even if they aren’t ready to share it yet. The event shows that younger people can have a voice, and inspires others to allow their voices to be heard.