Voices of Our Tomorrow

How Our Tomorrow made an impact on me

By: Giovanna Lopez-Tristan

Our Tomorrow really has had an impact on my life. 

It has opened my mind to new ideas, a new way of seeing our society and our world. I really liked how the network of adults partnered with us takes teen voices seriously and really showed genuine interest in every word we shared. 

They are always asking us about our experiences and what we think about important issues like mental health or sex education. Because of this, I am no longer scared to talk about the wrongs that I see in our society and how to properly communicate with others. 

Many of my friends want to get involved and use their voices but it can be scary. I’m glad Our Tomorrow helps you get over that fear. 

My first experience with Our Tomorrow was the Summer Policy Institute. At the Institute I learned about public speaking, how policy is made and how to get my friends involved. 

I am an artist at Say Si so before the institute I didn’t really know how to use my voice, but now I know that, through my art, I can share my voice. Being able to have the safe space and talk about society issues was a huge step forward into unknown territory for me, since I have always thought staying out of such controversial topics was the best option; however, Our Tomorrow taught me otherwise. 

Working and learning with young people from other parts of San Antonio helped me learn about their experiences and how we can’t just remain silent. We need each other and the problems won’t go away if we remain silent and do nothing. It was nice to know that I wasn’t alone and that there were other young people who also wanted to learn how to get involved. 

It would be amazing if more young voices stand up against the wrongs in our world. It’s not as hard as I once thought it was. 

It starts simply by talking to friends, neighbors, or even family about different topics they have in mind. The idea is to just start a conversation to be able to address a problem. 

They can do it as long as they feel safe and comfortable doing so — it’s their voice and opinions so of course they have the choice of when and how to use it. People my age can also use social media platforms to get more teens on the same page and aim for a change in society. They can get more involved with their community by simply looking for organizations like Our Tomorrow or Say Si. People there really listen to your voice and help you advocate for those ideas and even educate you further on the topic and see what we can do all together. 

My final advice is this: Do be afraid to speak your mind out, be the voice of others who can’t speak for themselves, and always look forward to a brighter future — or should I say brighter tomorrow.

Editor’s note:

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. Youth leaders within the Our Tomorrow network have learned about funding for youth services and are participating in a task force with adults to form recommendations on investments in youth, presented their ideas on sex education to the State Board of Education, and participated in our annual civics fair, Speak Up! Speak Out! 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face and those they see on the news. Voices of Our Tomorrow is a series of blogs that we will share every Thursday that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.