Young voices carry a powerful message

Denver metro area young people have something to say

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In this week’s special report called “Hear My Voice,” 15 young people from around the Denver metro area share their stories, their passions, their hopes for the future. They range in age from 15 to 23. They come from different backgrounds, places and experiences that have shaped who they are, how they view the world and what they want to change.

In a year marked by the rise of unprecedented youth activism, in which young people fought to be heard, the stories in this report reflect some of the nation’s most pressing challenges: mental health, immigration, equity, racism, politics, gender and sexuality identity, teen pregnancy and more.

The excerpts from these interviews, which have been edited for clarity and space, point to a common call to action: to listen better, to be more compassionate, to be willing to change.

They are aware of their power — 24 percent of the U.S. population is under 18, U.S. Census numbers show. They understand the issues because many live them, and they see the country we are becoming: By 2055, the United States will have no racial or ethnic majority, Pew Research Center reports.

These young men and women are adamant in the belief they can make a difference — and that their voices should be heard.

“Young voices make up a giant chunk of those living in this country, and they are widely underrepresented and misunderstood because they are just labeled as ‘kids who have learning and maturing to do,’ ” said Englewood resident Maria Alsubhi, 19, who moved to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia when she was in eighth grade. “We cannot just repress and patronize them — it is frustrating and unfair that we already do ... Listening just expands perspectives, especially listening to a young, excited, refreshing voice.”

So, let’s listen.

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