Hikma Sherka is our new Policy Research Assistant and will be our point person for advocacy events through January 2018. She comes to us with experience serving on multiple youth boards and was recently appointed to the King County Children and Youth Advisory Board (CYAB). Recently, we asked her to reflect on her journey as a youth advocate and changemaker.
In 2016, I was interviewed by Brandi Kruse from Q13 Fox News for a series they were doing on American Muslims working to create change in their communities. My interview was shared on Facebook and went viral. I started to receive messages from people all over the world telling me how much my story inspired them.
I never thought my story was special. I was a 19-year-old girl hoping to do something good in my community. The messages that stood out to me most were from young people who wanted to do the same but did not feel like their voices were being heard.
The interview came out at a time I was feeling voiceless myself. I was almost always the only young person in a room full of adults making decisions that impacted the lives of young people. I felt small. But this interview made me feel heard.
It inspired me to create a space for young people to feel the same. I started to organize events for youth in my community. These events become a space for me and many others to learn, feel empowered and most importantly, to be heard.
My passion for creating safe and inspiring spaces for youth grew as the years progressed. It became more than just youth talking about their hopes and dreams.
Last February, we organized an event called Black Girl Magic, where we had girls in our community come together to talk about what it means to be Black Muslims. We celebrated our beautiful curly hair and discussed the changes we wanted to make in the world.
That day, I realized my story in fact wasn’t special. I am not the only Black Muslim girl trying to make an impact. I am not the only young person with a story that could inspire others. I am one of many.
Empowering youth and giving us the opportunity to share our stories and participate in the community is not only great for our development, but the community’s, too. We need to recognize the role youth play as agents of change. We are powerful, resilient, and revolutionary. We want to learn. We want to contribute. We just need to be heard.
My role as YDEKC’s Policy Research Assistant has given me the opportunity to impact youth on a much bigger scale. I am able to take part in projects that will affect youth in not only King County, but Washington state as a whole.
This work started as a side passion, but it has become my life’s goal. I want to continue to encourage spaces to center youth in decisions that affect them. I will feel like I have succeeded when adults look at a young person and recognize them as equal contributors in shaping our society.