Part of Growing Planned Parenthood Generation Action Campus Programs Fighting for Reproductive Freedom alongside Reproductive Justice Leaders Nationwide
WASHINGTON, DC -- On Sunday August 24, in a closing ceremony in Ann Arbor, MI, Planned Parenthood Generation Action concluded its seventh and final Youth Organizing and Policy Institute(YOPI) of the summer, mobilizing and training more than 1,000 youth activists and leaders nationwide. This series of trainings occurring every two years is part of Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s deep commitment to engaging and mobilizing young people who represent the future of our country and our movement. Indeed, 40 percent of YOPI attendees this year were people of color, and many brought an intersectional lens to the work and the conversation.
“At Planned Parenthood Action Fund, we’re humbled by the enthusiasm and drive from our young supporters across the country,” said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Alongside local partners and reproductive justice groups nationwide, these passionate, committed young people are ensuring that this country is moving forward, not backward, when it comes to affordable health care, access to birth control, comprehensive sex ed, safe and legal abortion, and a number of issues that impact young people's health and lives. The present and future of this movement is in good hands.”
“This summer has been incredible and truly inspiring,” said Kelley Robinson, assistant director of youth organizing, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “With the support of our partners on the ground, we were able to train and mobilize 1,023 young activists and leaders from 250 campuses, across 49 states in the fight for reproductive freedom. These individuals are pressing the edges in the fight for reproductive justice with an unwavering commitment to helping everyone — young and old — live to their fullest potential and be able to make their own decisions about their health and bodies.”
Planned Parenthood Generation Action is a project of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. This network acknowledges and supports the dynamic perspectives and intersectional framework that young people are using to connect reproductive health to other issue like civil rights, immigration, the environment, and identity politics.
The 3-4 day 2014 Youth Organizing and Policy Institutes took place from June to August in Chicago, IL, Seattle, WA, Nashville, TN, Ft. Worth, TX, New York, NY, Denver, CO, and Ann Arbor, MI, and provided youth trainings and opportunities to put skills into action by engaging in local advocacy efforts. Each group of young leaders left the program with a plan of action, making a commitment to move the work of reproductive rights and health care access forward in their local communities.
"Few things are more inspiring for me as an artist than standing in front of a room full of young people committed to changing the world for good,” said performance artist and poet Sonya Renee, who was the featured artist for many of the YOPI trainings. "The sheer force of commitment in each of the young people is a palpable energy aimed directly at all the blockades to full access to reproductive health. I feel honored every time I get to stand before them! They are a breathing example of what is possible #WhenWeSayYES to making a difference in the world!"
The power building was felt immediately with actions on the ground and will only continue as participants head back to their communities to organize for the issues that matter most to them.
“Being a part of the YOPI tour and a movement that directly and actively engages young people has been an awakening for me as an individual and as a campus organizer,” said Shireen Nori, a Washington native who participated in the training in Seattle. “I learned how to use my personal experience as a tool for change. By working with other young people with shared values and goals, we have the opportunity to harness our collective power into meaningful action. That’s what true power looks like.”
In New York City, participants were joined by Planned Parenthood Federation of America Chair Alexis McGill Johnson, where she discussed the need for sexual assault prevention on college campuses and the intersectionality inherent in the reproductive justice movement. She spoke of reproductive freedom as an overarching goal that cannot be achieved without also addressing economic inequality and combating violence. She called on participants to commit to rally around their peers to fight toward and advocate for their shared goals together as a community.
While participants were in town for the YOPIs, they were also invited by local organizations to take part in actions where they were able to put the skills they learned at YOPI into play. In Denver, participants joined Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, knocking on nearly 3,000 doors with a local ballot committee. Outside Seattle, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest hosted it’s largest ever canvass in the organizations history, with 200 participants knocking more than 3,000 doors to educate the public about the importance of women’s health.
If you’d like to speak with a Planned Parenthood Action Fund spokesperson or one of the participants from the 2014 Power Tour: Youth Organizing and Policy Institute, please contact the media office at 212-261-4433.
Amid ongoing attacks on health care access and reproductive rights across the U.S. and abroad, this year has seen the launch of Planned Parenthood Generation and Planned Parenthood Generation Action, Planned Parenthood’s updated youth and campus engagement programs.
With more than 250 campus groups across the country, Planned Parenthood Generation Action members are rising up to say “enough is enough” to the recent unprecedented attacks on access to reproductive health care and safe and legal abortion. In fact, in the past few years, the number of Planned Parenthood chapters on college campuses has more than doubled.
CIRCLE reports that in 2012, 46 million young people ages 18-29 years old were eligible to vote, making up 21% of the eligible voting population in the U.S. That number will skyrocket to 36% of the electorate by 2016 and Millennials will represent just under 40% of the electorate by 2020. This is the largest and most diverse generation our country has ever seen.
To learn more about Planned Parenthood Generation Action and how local youth can get involved, please visit: http://plannedparenthoodgenaction.org.