By Alejandra Alarcon,
Sacramento, Calif. — Youth leaders are considered the future — but on June 20, 2012, youth from the Eastern Coachella Valley and throughout California became part of history.
Youth and their adult allies from all over the State came together in Sacramento to participate in the Student and Youth Bill of Rights celebration. The rally was hosted by state Assemblyman Victor Manuel Perez (D-Coachella).
The Youth Bill of Rights affirms the right to a free public K-12 education regardless of race, gender, disability, ethnicity, religion, poverty, sexual orientation, or place of residence.
Young adults from the Eastern Coachella Valley took a 10-hour bus ride to Sacramento to help support the reformation and quality of public education for underprivileged communities.
“Politicians may not always support unless there are a lot of people that show support for a cause. Youth can’t vote, and the only way you can show that we have power is through numbers,” said Jocelyn Vargas, director of community programs for Raices Cultura. “Us being there as the Eastern Coachella Valley shows that this is important and politicians should support.”
Different local organizations joined together as one on this trip to represent the Eastern Coachella Valley as a whole.
Together with youth organizations from Los Angeles, Stockton, Oakland, and San Francisco, Eastern Coachella Valley youth became part of a statewide, youth-led movement to close gaps between wealth and opportunity disparities.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that. It was interesting to see that we all come from different places but want the same thing,” said Mariela Gonzalez, a Coachella Valley High School student.
Several teens from the Eastern Coachella Valley and other communities were chosen to meet in Perez’s office to have a conversation and have questions answered. Selected students had the opportunity to also meet with Gilbert Cedillo, author of the DREAM Act.
The teens also had the chance to stand next to Perez in the State Assembly Chamber as the Youth Bill of Rights was being introduced.
“It’s really cool being part of history, because it’s something that’s going to be talked about and I can say I was part of it. It’s not common for youth to be involved in statewide politics,” said April Barba, a student at Coachella Valley High School.
Youth from the Eastern Coachella Valley connected with youth from all over California to create unity and support and, in so doing, became part of a historic movement.