What is there for politically inclined teens to do?

In the event that a teenager should ever want to become politically active, doors are flung open with high expectations and anticipation. The possibilities to get involved with politics in Utah and beyond soar into the heavens.Getting a foot in the door of agencies and programs that start teens on their political journey may take some effort, though, depending on what the end goal may be. They may want to intern in Washington, D.C., stuff envelopes for a local political campaign or try lobbying by writing letters for grass-roots organizations that mean something to them.

If party politics is of great interest, Utah teens can search out the Young Democrats or the Young Republicans on school campuses or in selective areas. These groups of teens with similar political philosophies and ideas may be perfect for expressing a fresh voice or working with peers on projects that matter to young people.

Heading to Washington, D.C., may be the ticket for some young, aspiring presidents or Congress members. If so, the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary offer Boys State and Girls State during the summer where two young men and two young women from every state are elected as Boys/Girls Nation senators. They then travel to D.C. for a week to learn about federal government with mock Senate sessions, touring and days on Capitol Hill with senators.

Boys and Girls State are both excellent opportunities to learn about state political procedures, and they offer leads into more political work after the sessions in the summer. Check with high schools for information.

Interning in Washington, D.C., is always a possibility for budding politicians. Through the State Department, the White House, Senate, House of Representatives or respective senators and congressmen, teenagers can personally experience the nation's capital.

On a local level, teenagers are encouraged to voice their opinions about environmental, social, health, financial, educational and other concerns through small, grass-roots organizations that are open to all citizens. Although these nonprofit organizations are difficult to locate, they are a way to get teens' voices heard and stir action and opinion about issues that are important to teenagers.

Writing letters to other organizations or state officials, researching and informing are all crucial to grass-roots organizations. Through the Utah State Capitol, teenagers can catch the scoop on interning for local officials or offices.

Local campaigns for propositions or state offices also offer opportunities for teens and older citizens to help when needed. By getting their names into the political community, teenagers can begin to see politics in action and their place in them now and in the future.

Though politics may not be the most palatable activity to digest, it is a way of making teens aware of the community and their future. Perhaps the best way to begin a journey into politics as a teen is to begin within the school in student government, political clubs and activism.

By making themselves known within the school community and establishing their political potential, they can then seep into their community and begin to make a difference in the country they will lead someday.

Britta Ameel is a student at East High School.