PHILADELPHIA – Sept. 18, 2018 –Young Philadelphians are invited to participate in #VoteThatJawn, a nonpartisan, city-wide campaign kickoff event to increase the numbers of youth voting in this year’s midterm elections. Kick-starting its two-month initiative, the event will take place at WHYY Hamilton Commons, 150 N. 6th Street, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22. Attendees will learn not only how they can get registered but how they can register others. Powered by Safe Kids Stories, #VoteThatJawn encourages 18- to 21-year-olds and first-time voters to attend. The program was planned throughout the summer by a seven-member Youth Steering Committee. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. for food, music, and registration.
The day will feature a visit by Mayor Kenney, a presentation by newly appointed youth poet laureate Wes Matthews, music by a citywide youth jazz combo, a DJ from SEAMACC, and an original VoteThatJawn rap performance by local music duo, MG and Ma’tthue Raheem. Featured animation video was created by young artists Dre Reed, Rachel Headlam, and José Rosero. Strategies will come talks by Keith Mui, Civic Engagement Coordinator at SEAMACC, Lansie Sylvia, a Senior Strategist at J2 Design, and Ismael Jimenez, teacher at Kensington CAPA and leader in the Working Educators/PFT.
The work of the day will be accomplished by young people themselves, planning in teams to come up with the best strategy to get as many people registered and to the polls as possible. Advertising specialists and organizers will be on hand to assist teams and suggest strategies and tactics. Partner Fresh Artists will provide a huge poster that participants can use for photo ops. WHYY’s media lab students will interview participants for video bites. Such photos, videos, blogs and tweets, posted in August, and refreshed until November will provide material that participants can share to keep their voting recruits focused on November 6th. Two classes, David Brown’s Capstone PR class from Temple, and Lorene Cary’s Creative Writing class at Penn, will act as scribes. Posts and podcasts will be shared with media partners at ThePhiladelphiaCitizen.org and WURD.
“Showing people the power of their voices goes such a long way,” said #VoteThatJawn Youth Steering Committee member and Temple University student Cyé Jacobs.
Although the event emphasizes collaboration, there’s a competition going on, too. In November, at an election afterparty (TBA), VoteThatJawn will award cash prizes to the team who brings the largest number of first-time voters to the ballot; to the most creative campaign, and to a campaign that evidenced the greatest grit!
Because midterm elections often challenge the party in power, the 2018 midterm elections have the potential to upset both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate from their current Republican majority. As VoteThatJawn.com’s homepage wonders: What if all 20,000 young adults in Philadelphia actually registered and voted? The implication is that the votes generated from this event, and using ideas from multiple voting projects, could carry a significant generational impact.
SafeKidsStories.com was created by writer, social activist and University of Pennsylvania lecturer, Lorene Cary. The crowd-sourced project involves K-12 students, college students and professionals to seek wholeness for children and youth and to combat violence. Safe Kids Stories will continue to advance the goals of #VoteThatJawn long after the midterms to help make Philadelphia a national leader in youth voter engagement. The first national partner: Ampersand, the publication of the Arts Journalism program at University of Southern California. For more information and to register for the event, visit VoteThatJawn.com or search @VoteThatJawn on Instagram and Facebook and @SafeKidsStories on Twitter.