It's game time and I'm not just talking about the opening day of your favorite college sports team. This month, thousands of young people head back to their college campuses, ready for the start of the school year and ready to take action. I'm proud to say that for more than 1,000 of those folks, they're going back to school with new skills and new tools to build power. They are pushing the edges of what we can even believe to be possible in this fight for reproductive freedom.
Over the summer, with the support of our partners on the ground and reproductive justice groups like SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective who partnered with us in Chicago and SisterReach in Tennessee, Planned Parenthood Generation Action was proud to bring together more than 1,000 youth activists and leaders nationwide at our biannual Power Tour: Youth Organizing and Policy Institutes (otherwise known as our Power Tours) across seven cities for a series of three-day trainings. These folks represent the present and future of our country and our movement.
These young leaders are fundamentally changing Planned Parenthood, changing our fight for reproductive freedom, and forcing us to re-envision what the world really can and should be. For our students in Missouri, that is going to look like a world where sex education is not about shaming us, but celebrating the awesomeness of our sexuality. For our folks in Colorado, that's going to look like a world where everyone -- regardless of their color, sexual orientation, and gender -- will be free from violence and be treated with dignity and respect in all areas of life. For our young leaders in Texas, that's going to look like a world where families are not torn apart because their parents had a dream for a better life. And, for our folks in North Carolina, that's going to look like a world where the ability to vote isn't a privilege, but a right that is fervently uplifted and upheld.
This is our movement for reproductive freedom and this is Planned Parenthood Generation Action -- it is as whole, as beautiful, and as intersectional as every one of the 1,000 young activists that partnered with us this summer. At this moment -- we, young leaders, are uniquely positioned and ready to fight for laws that reflect our values and partner with elected officials who understand (or even better: share!) our lived experiences.
The Power Tour attendees this year included young activists and leaders from 250 campuses, across 49 states, and matched the Planned Parenthood patient base in every way, as they all fell between the ages of 15-25 and more than 40 percent them represented communities of color. Together, all of the attendees brought an intersectional lens to the work as this conversation is so needed in every corner of our movement.
These passionate, committed young people are ensuring that this country is moving forward, not backward, when it comes to affordable health care, access to birth control, comprehensive sex ed, safe and legal abortion, and a number of issues that impact young people's health and lives, including the unacceptable reality that one in four college women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career.
Performance artist and poet Sonya Renee, the featured artist for many of the Power Tour trainings said it perfectly:"Few things are more inspiring for me as an artist than standing in front of a room full of young people committed to changing the world for good. The sheer force of commitment in each of the young people is a palpable energy aimed directly at all the blockades to full access to reproductive health. I feel honored every time I get to stand before them! They are a breathing example of what is possible #WhenWeSayYES to making a difference in the world!"
There's no doubt that young people are at the helm of lasting change in our country. They are taking charge and becoming a part of the political process. As Shireen Nori, a Washington native that participated in the training in Seattle said "working with other young people with shared values and goals, we have the opportunity to harness our collective power into meaningful action. That's what true power looks like."
While participants were in town for the Power Tour, they were also invited by local organizations to take part in actions where they were able to put the skills they learned at the trainings into play. In Denver, participants joined Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, knocking on nearly 3,000 doors with a local ballot committee. In Seattle, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest hosted its largest ever canvass in the organization's history, with 200 participants knocking more than 3,000 doors to educate the public about the importance of women's health.
With more than 250 campus groups across the country, Planned Parenthood Generation members are organizing on the ground every day for the issues that matter most to them.
If you're interested in joining our movement, please visit plannedparenthoodgenaction.org.