DNC Host Committee Announces Youth Engagement Programs

A Youth News Team and a Civic Youth Experience will help young people become more involved in the convention.

Victoria Thornton, a participant in the Youth News Team, speaks about why she wanted to get involved.

Victoria Thornton, a participant in the Youth News Team, speaks about why she wanted to get involved.

A group of Philadelphia youth will get hands-on experience the Democratic National Convention later this month.

The DNC Host Committee announced two programs today designed to engage Philadelphia youth in the convention. The two programs include a Youth News Team and a Civic Youth Experience.

The Youth News Team will give 25 high school and middle school students a chance to cultivate their skills and produce original content for the convention. The two-week program will involve a journalism boot camp and mentorships from a number of local journalists and outlets. The students will then work together in small groups to come up with ideas and produce convention-related content. 

One of those students, 14-year-old Tisharah Morton of West Philadelphia, hopes to use this opportunity to raise awareness of issues that are important to her. “My main issue that I want to work on is equality,” said Morton, who attends Saul High School. “Not just racial equality, I want to do religious equality, sexual orientation equality, just anything that will make people think of everyone as equal.”

Morton, who is currently learning how to work with cameras in the boot camp, said that she has always been interested in journalism and politics. For other students, however, this will be their first exposure.

Victoria Thornton, also a student at Saul High School, said that she didn’t know much about the DNC before a teacher prompted her to apply for the program. She said that she hopes the experience will broaden her horizons.

The students were chosen from a competitive application process where they submitted essays on topics they hoped to cover and why they wanted to be on the team. Schools represented include Girard Academic Music Program, William Meredith Elementary School, J.R. Mastermind Middle School, General George A. McCall Elementary and Middle School, Philadelphia High School for Girls, Franklin Learning Center, Scribe Video Center, and Saul High School.

The Civic Youth Experience, which is a result of a new partnership between the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) and Committee of Seventy, will provide free tickets to a new play, Voices of Voting, as well as training for youth to become Election Ambassadors, a program run by the Committee that places youth in volunteer roles on election day.

Voices of Voting, a short play by local artistic director David Bradley, is targeted to middle and high school students but open to the general public and will take place at Science Leadership Academy during the convention. According to a statement from the Host Committtee, it “ties the personal struggles and political courage of the 1960s campaign to secure the vote to the present-day challenge of engaging young people in our electoral process.”

“The Committee of Seventy is not normally known for commissioning theatrical productions, but we firmly believe in the power of the arts to make relevant the inspiring story of individual courage and sacrifice that secured the right to vote for millions of Americans,” said David Thornburgh, CEO of Committee of Seventy, in a statement. Thornburgh said that he hopes students will become engaged throughout the convention and continue training to become election ambassadors once the convention is over.

The Democratic National Convention will take place from July 25th through the 28th at the Wells Fargo Center.