Young activists across California have been attending Path to Power events organized by Planned Parenthood Action Fund to learn new skills and take action on reproductive justice issues in support of women's health.
Thanks to Sara for taking the time to recount her four-day experience:
I attended Path to Power 2014 in Washington along with a Planned Parenthood volunteer and fellow classmate at Occidental College. We woke up early, boarded our plane, and before I knew what hit me, we were scooped up by a bus and on our way to Evergreen State College.
The bus was filled with other Path to Power attendees, young people from San Diego, Mon-tana, Oregon, even a few from New York. We arrived, and climbed out of the bus, energized for it all to truly begin.
We were greeted by Path to Power leaders, who shared their stories, what motivates them, and then discussed what Reproductive Justice means. The speeches ended with a challenge: “People say that young people don’t care about Reproductive Justice...They must be looking in the wrong places; they don’t see you, they don’t hear you. We will make them listen!”
The second day calls each person to deeply consider their own experiences, what motivates them, and why they’re here. Everyone learns to be vulnerable; laughter peels out, tears are shed. A couple people share their stories in front of the entire group, and even when the stories are emotional and hard, everyone jumps to support one another. Looking around the room, I realized we had become a family. Throughout these discussions, the individual groups had melted into one. It became instantly clear that no matter where we come from or what we’ve gone through, our different paths have converged into one. One family with one goal.
Then we build strategies that encourage new volunteers to be part of the movement and the family. We find the “Story of Us” that brings people together, and build strategies to make meaningful change.
Later on we are given the opportunity to find our specific interests within the “us.” We break off and attend various meetings of our choosing, such as “Working in Coalitions,” “Voter Registration,” and “Organizing in Diverse Communities.” These meetings allow us to decipher where we as individu-als fit in to the “us,” and to develop those personal interests.
Day Four puts everything you learned into practice! It is an ACTION day, a culmination of the entire conference. We go out into neighborhoods to canvass for three candidates that Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest is supporting. This gave all of us the opportunity to enter the real world with our new organizing skills.
It highlighted the amazing nature of what we learned. I felt more alive, confident, and excited than I ever have. This work is the work of humanity; it’s the story of us all, the future for us all. It doesn’t mean that the fight won’t be hard, but we showed each other that we can do it. It is the “us”, the “we”, that will catch each other when we fall, and together is the only way that we can win.
There’s a lot of work to be done, and we’re excited to do it. We have the tools, now it’s time to fight!
Sara Samaha, student activist
p.s. A special thank you to the entire Path to Power leadership team, you guys made the magic happen, and you totally rock! Much love for you all.