By Arjan Warya, Senior
Archbishop Mitty High School
The Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP) is a club of students who learn about, research, and act on political and social injustices. As part of MAP, we fight for social justice. Often, I get asked why I advocate and why I participate in the Mitty Advocacy Project. My answer to that is: why not? As a teenager in 2017, I know my voice has impact and — in fact — it is my social and religious obligation to make sure to fight for those who are oppressed. All acts of supporting the marginalized, no matter how big or small, are advocacy, and I try my very hardest to stand for social justice. Participating in MAP makes advocacy collaborative and effective.
MAP was founded by students and for students in 2008, after students came back from immersion trips and felt the need to continue their fight for social justice in their own community at Mitty and beyond. The first few years of MAP were formative years, as students learned how to reach out to politicians and get their voices heard. With enough hard work, MAP started leaving their mark, as students went to both Sacramento and Washington D.C. to lobby in front of lawmakers about various issues in society.
MAP has always been about action, and this school year has been no different. This year, we focused on social injustices in society. The top three topics of focus this year were human trafficking, immigration, and the presidential election. Human trafficking has been a recurring theme that we continue to attack, as its existence is an ongoing violation of human rights. During Super Bowl 50, which was held in Santa Clara last year, we created an informative poster and multiple blog posts to present ways to recognize human trafficking. Our work clearly paid dividends, as cases of reported human trafficking were down significantly from prior Super Bowls. This year, MAP sent students to a conference put on by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry to present how to recognize signs of human trafficking on various social media platforms.
This year, MAP has also been a voice for immigrants. MAP, along with STAND, another school-wide youth group that allows for students to be advocates for social justice, completed the “We Are America” project and created a video highlighting how our own community at Mitty is made up of immigrants. The purpose of the video was to highlight the importance of immigrants and minorities and to appreciate their presence, while also shedding light on recent injustices.
Finally, MAP was very active in the presidential election of 2016. In blog posts, MAP worked in support of the themes of Catholic Social Teaching and a variety of measures and bills. MAP also highlighted other effective ways students can stay active during and after the presidential election in order to make sure our voices are heard in the most effective way.
In the simplest of terms, it is imperative that we, as students, know that we have the power to create change. When we advocate, we’re the voice of change in the face of injustices. Advocacy is a tool sitting in our moral and ethical toolboxes. It is up to each of us to determine whether or not we choose to pick up that tool and build a more just world for all.