I met Shira Strongin when I was thirteen years old. Dealing with devastating illness was originally the thing that brought us together, but as time went on I found that we stayed close because we had each discovered another person that was dedicated beyond anything else to making change. I felt that I had finally met my match in Shira. From different timezones we were soon giving each other advice on how to run our websites, sharing our favorite organizations, and reading health policy. What was once a friendship categorized by a mutual decline in health became one of empowerment and possibility, and although we led very different campaigns and separate lives we seemed to fall into the title of activist together.
Looking back upon the past few years, I realize just how miraculous and strange our friendship has been. Instead of riding my bike to Shira’s house, I saw her most frequently at conferences or during speaking engagements plane rides away. Late night texts soon turned into late night shared-Google-docs as we penned rebuttals to politicians and journalists that we felt misunderstood our cause and discounted us because of our age. Our social media use was transformed by the cyber-rallies we hosted, and our Twitter mentions were filled with both avid supporters and vague threats that I often times barely understood. Slowly, we even began to talk of advocates and foundation leaders with the same kind of admiration that we once reserved only for our favorite celebrities.
Our story is just one of many. There are countless ways that individuals strive to make change, and an infinite amount of stories behind their desire to. We want Ask An Activist to be a space where young people can gain inspiration from changemakers and influencers, all while getting to know them on a personal level. This column will be a series of interviews, each from activists with fascinating backgrounds and a fierce dedication to their cause. We strive to be accessible and geared towards you, the reader--so reach out to us. Tell us who you think we should feature next. Get involved, trust me, we want you to.
AskAnActivist@gmail.com is always open.