Energized from the previous day’s midterm elections, Philadelphia youth convened in
Mayor Kenney’s Reception Room to celebrate their hard work mobilizing the youth vote. Though the students in attendance came from different educational backgrounds, from Temple University to local area high schools and the University of Pennsylvania, they all shared the same passion for registering their peers to vote and a connection to the #VoteThatJawn initiative.
As a nonpartisan, city-wide effort, #VoteThatJawn was created to spark inspiration for
youth to make voting a lifelong commitment. The initial kick-off event that took place in late September allowed students to strategize and present their ideas for registering their peers to vote, as 20,000 first-time eligible voters in Philadelphia could create a significant impact by marching to the polls. Since #VoteThatJawn, powered by Safe Kids Stories, was for and by young people, Philadelphia students were entirely responsible for the artwork, music and public relations throughout the campaign’s duration.
The purpose of the November 7th after-party was to give back to the youth who have
cherished #VoteThatJawn’s mission and made the promise of fashioning their lifestyles around civic engagement. Holding the event in the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall was symbolic of the political process: voting and activism give the people a voice in their own government, as they elect those who champion their interests. The room is a space for the students who understand the vitality of standing up for those who cannot do so for themselves.
Teams were given the opportunity to share the strategies and tactics they used to
encourage others in their lives to vote, competing in the categories of greatest grit, most creative campaign and most voters to the polls. The prize for greatest grit went to Art Sanctuary, an organization that empowers others to use art for cultural understanding and transformation. Temple College Democrats received most creative campaign for making voting more accessible to North Philadelphia residents and students by hosting voter registration drives on the subway and other innovative locations. After registering 100 percent of 18-year-olds in their school, the team representing Mastery Lenfest Charter School took home most voters to the polls. Each group was awarded $1,000 to further their enthusiasm for making change in Philadelphia. With the #VoteThatJawn initiative coming to a close, the motivation that spurred the campaign will continue to inspire students to be active members of their communities for years to come.