Are you eagerly awaiting the day when you turn 18 and can vote for the very first time? Or do you think that it's pointless voting? It's so important to use our vote and have our say on what we want to happen. Maybe it seems that one person's decision won't make much difference. But if we don't vote, we shouldn't complain about what governments do in our name! Still, if you're still under 18, what can you do to make a difference? Here's how …
Everyone can have a voice these days - just start a blog. It's a good way for younger people to have their say. Blogs don't just have to be about frivolous topics like fashion; they can also be used to raise awareness of political issues that affect young people. I'm also impressed by this blog by a teen who suffers from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease morethanyourbag.com. Blogs like these help raise awareness of what it's like to live with a chronic illness, something that affects many teens and young people.
Do you feel like politicians don't listen to young people or understand how you feel? Campaign on the issues that matter to you. If enough young people speak up, politicians will start to take notice. Your view still matters even if you aren't yet old enough to vote; it won't be long before you reach 18, and politicians will want your vote then!
3. Community Work
Changing the world doesn't have to happen on a grand scale; in fact, it's easier to have an impact on a small, local level. Do something to improve life in your local community. Ask yourself what issues need to be addressed. Is there nowhere for young people to socialise? Are the streets full of litter? Does the library need more books or longer opening hours? Do something to help.
4. Mentor Others
Young people and teens are often stereotyped as only interested in partying, or told that their opinions aren't worth listening to. But many young people are clued up, hard-working and motivated. Use your skills and talents to help mentor other young people. Are you good at sports or have you coped with serious problems? There's sure to be some way you can be a mentor.
Use your spare time to help other people out. One really good way to make a difference is to volunteer with the elderly. Whether it's helping out an elderly neighbor or visiting a resident in a nursing home, you could really make a massive difference to that person. And old people can be pretty cool to talk to; remember that they were also young once! Or you could work with animals. The possibilities for volunteering are endless.
6. Clean up Your Community
Put all that energy to good use and organise a clean-up in your community. Clear out a pond, sweep the streets, paint park equipment or plant flowers to brighten everyone's day. Town councils will often work with people who put forward ideas, and help them out with equipment.
7. Adopt an Ethical Lifestyle
Do your bit towards living ethically. Perhaps you could turn vegetarian, or grow organic vegetables in your garden. You could also try to avoid unnecessary car journeys or stop energy wastage in your family home. The more people who try to live ethically, the greater the difference to the world.
There are some truly inspirational young women around, like Malala Yousafzai. Who is your role model?