As the many different issues within society become clearer, many young people have taken action to call for change and demand justice. Some students who want to get involved are struggling with where to start, feeling as though they are unable to make an actual impact. If you are one of those students, feeling unsure is normal and should not deter you from pursuing activism. There are a multitude of resources available online and within your community. Depending on the type of person you are, you may want to try out different paths such as protesting, fundraising, writing, and/or creating art pieces. There are a wide range of social issues that may call out to you and align with your values. Once you figure out your own interests and what you want to do to help, becoming involved in activism is not as hard as it seems.
As BCA students, we have the opportunity to join a variety of clubs that coincide with our interests. There is likely someone else in the school that shares your passion for climate justice or bringing awareness to universal menstrual health. There is also a likely chance that there is a club or organization that allows you to pursue that interest and if not, you have the opportunity to create a club to do just that. A wide range of morning clubs and Wednesday clubs address different societal issues in different ways to bring awareness to and raise funds.
Wednesday Clubs are exclusively held on Wednesday afternoons and allow you to work with other students. There are a couple of clubs that address problems within our world to spread awareness. If you are the kind of person who wants to support women in the technology field and would like to learn about coding yourself, Girls Who Code would be a great opportunity for you! Girls Who Code is a Wednesday club whose goal is to “help send girls on their way to technological success by teaching the basics of coding and maybe even more,” and it is advised by Mr. Madden.
If climate justice and preserving the environment are more your thing, join the Environmental Science Club with Mr. Zhang. The club hopes to “raise awareness about environmental issues through community outreach and work toward addressing these issues.” They also work within the school to make it more environmentally friendly and participate in community events and competitions such as “Hackensack River Cleanup” and “President’s Environmental Youth Award.” You can sign up for any of these clubs in the beginning of Trimester during Wednesday Club registration or reach out to any of the teachers mentioned.
There are a lot of options as well for morning clubs! DURGA Tree educates students about human trafficking in today’s world and how to combat it through raising awareness and money to support victims. They meet on Tuesdays, and you can contact Gisele Tjan (AAST 2022) if interested.
Some students may be more interested in the justice system and want to work to reform it. If so, the Criminal Justice Club, that meets on Wednesday and is led by Seton Liu (AAST 2022), would be interesting to look into. Speakers from different backgrounds are brought in to speak to the students and spark discussions about criminal justice reform. In addition, club members engage in activities all across Bergen County to encourage reform.
Additionally, students have noticed the lack of education surrounding menstruation as well as free period products available within BCA. Operation Period run by Faith Lukang (AAST 2021) hopes to “reduce period poverty and end the stigma surrounding menstruation” and advocate for the availability of free period products within BCA.
Other students may want free range to write and create art about social injustices that are important to them. Those students would be welcomed at Teens Take A Stand whose goal is to bring awareness and educate teens on issues that impact the world around them. If interested, you can contact Aaryaa Chiney (AMST 2023).
In addition, the Black & Latinx Student Union (BLSU) run by Amiri Rivera (AVPA-M 2022) and Laila Jeffries-El (ACAHA 2022) creates a community and helps serve BCA’s Black and Latinx students. It works towards making a more inclusive BCA environment with students of all backgrounds represented as well as amplifies Black and Latinx voices.These are just a few of the many organizations offered within the school.
A world of activism is present outside of BCA and can be accessed through a quick search on the web or a scroll through social media. You can find community organizations or groups that do all kinds of activities from collecting donations and raising funds to protesting.
One such organization is Sunrise Bergen County, which is a hub of the Sunrise Movement. This group was started by Abby Saks (AAST 2021) and Pranav Hooda (AAST 2023). Sunrise Bergen County is for people who are passionate about combating climate change through political action and spreading awareness. Anyone who lives in Bergen County is able to join and can participate in their events and protests through checking out their instagram account @sunrisebergen and signing up through their linktree in their Instagram bio.
Another group started by Kayla Luga (ABF 2023), Diana Mei (ABF 2023), and Pooja Rayapaneni (ABF 2023) is Dear Asian Youth Bergen County, which is also part of a larger organization known as Dear Asian Youth. They “strive to showcase diversity in the Asian community as well as accurate and holistic representation.” You can also become part of the organization through checking out their Instagram @daybergencounty and going through their linktree in their bio.
Other organizations such as Garfield Neighbors hope to better their communities through volunteering and provide services to aid their towns. Garfield Neighbors“[advocates to fight] for community development and fostering self-sustaining populations through community-driven positive change.” Within the town, they host food drives and curate care packages for people who need help.
With a bit of research, you can easily become active within your community and fight for the social injustices that you deem important. At first it may seem daunting and challenging to be able to make a difference, but all you need to do is find a place where you belong and feel safe to voice your opinions and help out in a way you see fit. Social media, YouTube, books, and online articles can help you discover what captivates you. Look into a variety of topics such as BLM, LGBQT+ rights, gender equality, climate justice and more to see what you find the fascinating. Next, educate yourself and research that injustice.
Finally, it is a good idea to read reliable articles to increase your body of knowledge on that topic. This will allow you to not only better yourself but also help you educate those around you. Joining a group will allow you to exchange different ideas with the other people, allowing for an exchange of knowledge and ideas on how to combat all of these issues. There is no right or wrong way to get involved in activism. You just have to figure out what works best for you.
Below are a couple more BCA clubs that advocate for change as well as the some Instagram handles of organizations mentioned above:
Black & Latinx Student Union → @bcablsu
DURGA Tree → @bcadurgatree
Operation Period → @bcaoperatioperiod
Teens Take A Stand → @ttas.20
Youth Climate Action coalition → @bca.ycac
Garfield Neighbors → @garfieldneighbors
BCA Advocated for Change → @bcaadvocatesforchange
BCA Girl Up Club → @bcagirlup
BCA Sustainability → @bcasustainability
BCA CommUNITY club → @comm_unity_club
MERACL → @meracl_bca
Feed Bergen → @feedbergen
Soccer For Hope → @soccer4hope
Society of Women Engineers → @bca.swe
BCA Spectrum → @bca.spectrum
UNICEF → @bcaunicef
World Vision → @world_vision_bca