Members of Youth for the Voiceless pose at Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary. The group, which originated as Animal Rights Club, promotes animal rights and welfare and now has contacts across the country. Photo by Claire Howe.

Youth for the Voiceless is a recently established nonprofit for youth interested in animal activism. With a board of 14 people, Youth for the Voiceless hopes to broaden their community and eventually to become a national nonprofit.

The organization started with the ideas of students at Franklin and Cleveland High School. It began as Animal Rights Club in both schools, but ended up becoming something bigger. Maggie Salter (12) is the Communications Committee Co-Chair for Youth for the Voiceless and was one of the founders of Franklin’s Animal Rights Club. “We kind of started seeing this lack of youth voices within the animal rights movement, and a place where youth could empower each other and feed off [of] each other’s energy to create change,” said Salter. “There wasn’t really anything like Youth for the Voiceless, so we wanted to make a group where youth could share their story and feel empowered and be a part of something bigger than just themselves.”

So that’s what they did. Salter, as well as other members of the Animal Rights Clubs, came together and decided to create a nonprofit. It started out as just an idea, but they have created an organization in which they feel they are making change. The nonprofit’s mission is to bring a fresh approach to youth animal activism and to fight for change now.
Youth for the Voiceless makes their voices heard in a variety of ways. They pride themselves on using modern-day technology and on community-building through various campaigns. They reach out to their audience by providing everyday things people can do to try and help, such as publishing articles on their website and social media outlets about vegan lifestyle and why animal rights are important. “With being vegan, it takes into account the environment, which is very important for humans and animals alike, as well as your own health,” said Salter. They also regularly go on outings to farm sanctuaries, such as Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary, to get hands-on experience with the animals they are advocating for. The nonprofit was even invited to the Animal Rights National Conference in August 2017, where they collaborated and got insight from other advocates around the nation. They now have a following in both California and New York.

Youth for the Voiceless will continue to advocate and inspire young advocates for animal rights. They hope to continue their mission of bringing a fresh approach to animal activism and making their voices heard to inspire those wanting to advocate in the future. “Animal rights gets a negative [reputation] because a lot of people see it as ‘oh these people care more about animals than humans’ when in reality the two issues are very interlinked,” said Salter. “When you start to see the value that every living being has—that radiates out to every species and I think that it’s important to realize that although there are still issues happening within human rights, that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for other beings’ rights.”

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