The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

West Creates New Club: Youth Activism and Leadership

Syeda Fatima
The Y.A.L leaders and sponsors.

Niles West welcomes yet another new club this year, the Youth Activism and Leadership (Y.A.L) club. This club will provide students with an opportunity to become activists and future leaders of this world. It will also create space for students to advocate for issues they are passionate about and want to bring some change.

Juniors Nabiah Sheikh and Rahmeen Yousuf are the founders of this club and will be facilitating it as well. Y.A.L was created to guide students to create successful change within the school and around the community.

“Y.A.L. is a club dedicated to being an outlet for change. Our club has two parts, the first is where members can create individual campaigns about issues they are passionate about such as social justice issues. Then, Nabiah and I as leaders will make lesson plans to guide them through every step of the process and teach them skills to be effective activists and leaders,” Yousuf said. The second part of our club revolves around aiding other clubs to help them further enact change. We would act as consultants for them to be effective at their cause and help them organize protests, statements, and whatever else they may need.”

Aside from many other clubs around the school focusing on change, Y.A.L hopes to not only bring change within the school but also around the world.

“The point of Y.A.L is to go beyond the school and truly enact change in the local communities that we have and hopefully expand from there,” Sheikh said.

The idea to bring change is easier said than done because not everyone knows where to begin the process to implement such change.

“Many people have no idea where to even start when it comes to leadership and activism, they don’t know how to do certain things like mobilize themselves. We wanted to help students by providing resources to achieve their goals,” Yousuf said.

Social Studies teachers Daniel Kosiba and Megan Spletzer are the sponsors of this club. They will provide the club with useful skills they hold to further advance their goals.

“My background is in activism and so I was an activist before I was a teacher and I continue to be outside of school. So this is the kind of club I feel like I was made for because I can actually bring in my lived experience and help young people who really want to take their advocacy to that next extent which is activism, by actually doing something outside of school,” Kosiba said.

“I have a background in journalism, so what I bring is the ability to let students know how the media works, and communication so I can help with that angle of activism work,” Spletzer said.

Just with the first meeting, students created a  joint statement in solidarity which was later released to staff and students.

“For our first meetings, we invited MSA, JSA, and MENA clubs to essentially start a discussion about what was happening around the world. From there the idea was proposed to send out a statement to tell the entire student body that there is support for every individual out there affected or not affected by the cause and everyone is mourning and pain should not be taken lightly. Everyone came together and we all worked on creating a statement that was unbiased and was able to show the students that they have support,” Sheikh said.

Kosiba felt that the club has already made change happen through the joint statement created by the students.

“We have already made change happen, and we see it because people from different towns have emailed and texted me over the weekend about how great of a job our students did in the first meeting in writing that joint statement which happened during only one meeting,” Kosiba said.

The club will be completely student led where the students will have the freedom to choose what they would like to voice for.

“Our goal is not to tell the students what to think or fight for or what campaigns to run but to give them the tool that they need in order to make a difference,” Spletzer said.

Spletzer also mentions how this club will fulfill a goal that her and Kosiba had been working on for some time.

“Mr. Kosiba and I are both on a committee with the school called Illinois Democracy Schools Committee. Where we spent the whole last year working on a project to think of how can we let our students have a voice in the school and in the community and what are some ways that we as staff members can do to facilitate that. So when Nabiah and Rahmeen reached out to us, we felt like this was the perfect club that will help us achieve that goal,” Spletzer said.

Students from MSA, JSA, and MENA come together to write a joint statement during the first Y.A.L meeting. Picture found on @nwsocstudies Instagram.

Kosiba gives a shout to the founders of this club who made Niles West a better place.

“Rahmeen and Nabiah deserve more love and credit, because in addition to being furious and righteous, they are also very humble. They have a huge impact on making our school safer and a united place,” Kosiba said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Niles West News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *