Getting Youth Socially and Civicly involved in the Community with Rodney Wells

Rodney Wells is a 16-year-old junior at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida. He is the President and Founder of the Young Leaders of Today. It is a student-based founded and governed non-profit organization, whose mission is to empower and engage young men and women through political, civic, and social action. The Young Leaders of Today was founded in August of 2018. Rodney, along with other student leaders, who understand the need to have more active students within the politics and civic issues, came together to form what is now an incorporated not-for-profit organization.

Question 1: Could you tell us more about the events that you host? What is the process like?

The Young Leaders of Today dedicates its time to three primary sections of engagement: informing, participating, and organizing. In the past we’ve done events focused on mental health, gun violence, quality of education, and juvenile justice. As an executive team, we discuss the major issues surrounding students of today. We then work to find out how we can address those issues either through pre-voter registration, education, or community based action.

Question 3 : We heard that you will be starting a podcast in October. That’s awesome! What steps did you take to start it?

While planning our pre-voter registration initiative, we realized a big issue was that even though we were helping to organize the next voting block; students are not always informed on the issues going on and why they matter. So we wanted to fulfil our mission to not only empower, but also to engage. The executive team came up with the idea of a podcast, that would be co-hosted by both a conservative and a liberal student, who would discuss the current issues. Our student-led media platform would also spotlight a news blog.

Question 4: How do you decide who gets to be on the board? What qualities do you look for in a team member?

One of the biggest qualities we look for in executive board members is a willingness to serve. We also love to have students with an experience that correlates with the duties and responsibilities of certain positions, like Political or Communications Director. A big factor I personally take into consideration is how does their perspective help facilitate dynamic conversations to achieve a more well-rounded Executive Board.

Question 5: What does it mean for students to work in the state and local level? How were you able to extend your reach?

It’s about changing the status quo; when students work at the state and local level, they show elected officials that we provide a unique perspective that is able to effectively help shape public policy and social change through local, state, and the federal government.

Question 6: Outside of Young Leaders of Today, what other hobbies do you have and how do you manage to find balance?

I really enjoy reading! Whether it’s a book about either history, politics or philosophy, I read at least an hour out of my day. Currently, I’m reading a biography about Abraham Lincoln, who is someone I’ve admired since I was five for his crisis leadership, vision, and pursuit for equal justice. The most effective way I’ve found to find balance outside of Young Leaders of Today is by managing a strict schedule and sometimes finding time for myself.

Question 7: What is your favorite history meme?

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