GROWING UP IN APPALACHIA ISN’T ALWAYS EASY.
When you are a resident of Appalachia, there is a ubiquitous understanding that it has its faults. While there are hundreds upon thousands of individuals and groups trying to change that, as a young person, it often feels like you are voiceless. There is a looming stigma that you have to wait for young people to enter the workforce or go off to college before their perspective is respected.
What do you do when you see real issues happening in your backyard, but you’re still a teenager? How do you make a change before you’re even old enough to vote? How do you embolden others to do the same? And, how do you navigate all of that when it feels like the people in power are against you?
After some of the most divisive last few years in Appalachia and America, young people are standing up, speaking out and making a difference in their communities. From school walk-outs to organizing donations and Senate speeches, young people are doing whatever it takes to amplify their rally cries for change.
We interviewed high school seniors from across the region who have some of the loudest voices. While they should be focused on writing college essays and finding prom dates, these young adults have also chosen to become advocates, entrepreneurs, politicians and organizers for their causes.
Rania, Andrew, Aaron, Lonnie, Colin, Wyatt, Vivian, Jasmyn and Sophie are nine incredible students that exemplify that it is never too early to spark change.
Meet Rania Zuri the founder of the LiTEArary Society, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating book deserts regionally and nationally.
Meet Andrew O’Neal the first youth governor in West Virginia and a spokesperson for change.
Meet the SAGA Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding transgender youth in Appalachia founded by Colin Street, Aaron Reedy and Lonnie Medley.
Meet the Tennessee division of the March For Our Lives as they sprung into action after a local school shooting.