My name is Candy Lara and I am a sophomore at Lakewood High School and a youth leader with Californians for Justice. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending Free Our Dreams, a statewide event with the goal of gathering youth across California for a weekend to prepare them for meetings with legislators to speak about bills that can harm or help their community and schools. Over the weekend we meet many other youth, participated in workshops to inform us about what to do and what not to do during a meeting with state leaders, learned about others that have fought for their rights, and finally worked to strengthen our own personal stories so we can make an impact when we share them with leaders.
This was my first time in the state capitol and I was there to make a change and raise my voice for myself and for those who couldn’t. I spent the weekend preparing for what seemed like one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever faced — speaking to legislators. Over the weekend I met new people that were of color, low income, lived in food deserts, and went to poor schools. I learned their stories and why they joined the fight which made me feel comfortable when I emceed and spoke in front of them because I knew we were all fighting together even if we came from many different backgrounds.