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Activating the Youth Voice and Vote

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Shannon Salter is a civics teacher at Building 21 High School in Allentown. She provides a safe space for her students to discuss issues that affect them and their communities, and teaches them their voices and votes matter, regardless of age.

"When we take voter registration and put it in the cafeteria, we send a message that this is an optional side thing competing with your chicken nuggets and the bake sale," says Salter. "We choose to give voting the recognition it deserves by making it an integral part of the learning in the classroom and not something that happened outside the class."

Students Jhon Castro and Destanie Sanchez say Salter helped them activate their voice and their vote.

“This is how we can change the world by voting for who we want to be president and not only for president for other things as well," says Sanchez. "Our voice is strong enough that if we want it to be heard, we can be heard. She gave us confidence. She wanted us to learn and it was true and pure from her heart.”

“If you see something wrong, and you can make a change," says Castro. "No matter how little it is yell it out. Scream it out. Make a change. We're supposed to make a change and make it better.”

That passion helped Building 21 receive national attention. Salter's students were rewarded by MTV and When We All Vote with a Zoom call with former first lady Michelle Obama and a virtual prom celebration on MTV.

Sanchez is also joining the When We All Vote National Student Ambassador Program and will begin training this summer.

Watch the story below for more.

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