Connected Learning

Representative Stephanie Howse Encourages Youth to Speak Up & Fight for Change

A Virtual Conference Keynote

I believe our role as elected officials is about making sure people have the opportunity to provide a better life for their families and for future generations, and I look forward to contributing to that.”

— Ohio Representative Stephanie D. Howse, District 11

Honoring Youth Action

This image is a screenshot that was captured during Campus International High School’s Campus Conference: A Youth Research Symposium. The annual academic conference was originally designed as the culminating event for students at Campus International High School to share the results of their youth-led research projects. The conference, which has continued every year since the school’s inception, has become a critical learning space for the school community. During this event students’ research, collaborative work, and commitment to action come to life in the process of sharing their research in a live setting with interested community members.

To support the goals of this day, the conference has always included a lunchtime keynote. Although the 2021 conference was virtual, the keynote continued. On May 7, 2021, Ohio Representative Stephanie Howse joined the first ever virtual conference as our keynote speaker. Representative Howse, with her own long history of civic engagement activism, and community-focused change, shared her enthusiasm for the young people’s projects, praised their efforts to date, and encouraged them to continue with their action-oriented research to change their lives and their local communities. Highlighting and building on the list of youth research topics related to promoting mental health awareness, quality and accessibility to care, environmental change, and advocacy for better neighborhoods, Representative Howse emphasized that what students were doing mattered to the health, well-being and growth of their communities and all of Ohio.

Representative Howse offered a glimpse into how her initiatives and goals will impact Ohio. Representative Howse announced $19 billion for Ohio’s schools and other projects to support Ohioans. She stated “The harsh reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic is still present and wreaking havoc on the everyday lives of Ohioans. It is vital that Ohio families and communities that are hardest hit receive rapid, flexible and equitable support to survive and successfully recover. There is still more work to be done but, I believe these funds will help provide some economic relief and assistance, while ultimately showing Ohioans that there is a commitment to fulfilling the Ohio Promise by helping community members in their times of need.”

Representative Howse’s message inspired a great many questions from youth and adult audience members and Representative Howse was able to address a good number of the questions. She spoke honestly about the difficulty of change-oriented work, but emphasized how important it is for young people to be exercising their agency as community members. Representative Howse’s attendance at the Campus Conference amplified the significance of youth-led research and community-engaged research, conveying an even greater sense of urgency and purpose for community-focused work and civic engagement as part of the work of/in schools.

Please click on this link to learn more about Representative Howse, including key initiatives and ways to partner with her to make Ohio a more equitable place to live. Representative Howse has since moved closer to her home town of Cleveland and is now a City of Cleveland Coucilwoman.

This post is part of the Co-Creating Virtual Learning Spaces for School-Based YPAR collection.