The Californian

Eighteen X’18 encourages awareness

Anne Syed, Staff Writer

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Former “Blackish” and now “Grownish” star Yara Shahidi launched  on Jan. 9 a story-telling initiative called Eighteen X‘18 to get legal teens involved in the upcoming midterm election in November. 

“At the heart of it, Eighteen X‘18 is about education,” said  Día Bùi, the project’s director of digital strategy and social media. “Not just educating first time voters about midterm elections but also educating elected officials, adults and other kinds of leaders on issues young people care about.” 

The 17-year-old Shahidi believes this generation has been geared to avoid having political opinions until it’s time to vote.

To encourage teens to get involved, she created Eighteen X‘18 with The Soze Agency and The Filmmaker Fund to help the next generation of voting teens have a civic engagement platform. 

According to Bùi, the goal of this initiative is to find opportunities for young people to connect with each other. Shahidi already hosted a dinner for her peers on Jan. 9 to get them involved. 

“When we inherit this [government] system we have no idea about, often times we have no clue on how the system of government properly functions,” said Shahidi in an interview on the Daily Show. “We theoretically vote based on ideology, with no backup for why we support certain ideologies and really no correlation between how our passions transform into policy change.” 

Currently, Eighteen X’18 is having a digital contest on Instagram where teens can submit videos on important topics and issues in America today. 

Shahidi believes that this project will allow teens to have an educational platform about the government and current events in politics. She hopes that young adults will one day be able to truly take control of the political system. 

With only 50 percent of voter participation among eligible youth in the 2016 election, many Cal students believe that a social media campaign like Eighteen x ‘18 is inspirational and that the project will benefit their peers.

“Often times, teens that just turn legal avoid participating in voting because we’re not educated enough on the subject,” said senior Gabby Reid. “Informing these young adults could lead them to the poll booth.”

On the other hand, some Cal students believe that a social media campaign that educates upcoming adults is not enough. 

“I don’t think a social media campaign will be very helpful ,” said senior Justin Wong. “People will just forget about the posts the next day.” 

About 46 million people between the ages 18-29 are eligible to vote, including 39 million of whom are high school seniors, according to statistics from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

CIRCLE researches specifically on youth-related subjects to inform policies and have healthier youth development with a better democracy. 

There are far more young people eligible to vote compared to the older generation, but there are not enough young adults participating in elections. 

People believe that this is because some schools are not educating their upcoming voters enough on the subject. 

Cal students believe that, besides government classes, high school seniors are not getting the required education from school classes that will help them learn about voting.

“This stems from kids that don’t know how much elections affect them,” said senior Ariyana Kermanizadeh, who is Cal’s ASB president. “People don’t want to vote because they don’t feel the need to. Our number one problem is that we’re constantly getting taught from books and don’t know how to apply the facts to real life.” 

Statistics show that youth are capable of having a voice if they take action to get involved with their government. Social media campaigns such as Eighteen x ‘18 remind young adults of this fact.

“Schools can definitely play a bigger role in how young people, as they are turning 18, can understand the political and electoral process,” said Búi. “Beyond that, the later community, every adult and political as well as public figures can play role in making sure electoral education is accessible to everyone.” 

The Eighteen x ‘18 campaign encourages voting because with the opportunity to vote, young adults can take advantage of the system, since it allows them to take a direct part in electing the president of the United States and local officials. 

According to CIRCLE, participating in local elections is beneficial.This is due to the fact that the local government affects people’s daily lives, while having the capability to bring the smaller voices of the people at a federal level. 

Students believe that the power to vote allows citizens to have a right: it simply gives them freedom, a privilege that many youths in other countries do not experience.

“It’s important to be aware of what’s going on around us,” said senior Isabella Perez. “Often times, high school students shield themselves from the reality of things.”

As the midterm elections come nearer, Eighteen x ‘18’s social media campaign on Instagram and Twitter will be an outlet for teens to get involved.

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Eighteen X’18 encourages awareness