In November last year, NUS launched a groundbreaking project called I Am The Change. We invited students let us know changes they wanted to make, whether it be about education, the community, the environment, personal development, health and wellbeing, careers or politics - it didn't matter what it was about, or how big it was.
All visitors to the website then voted for their favourite idea with the winner receiving training and funding to help deliver the campaign. The winner was Courtney Giles - a student who wanted to stop Epsom Phab - a youth club for disabled and non-disabled children - being closed down by Surrey County Council.
Following campaign planning days and ongoing support, Epsom Phab will now remain open until the end of 2013 at least and the campaign team are hopeful of achieving their ultimate aim to have a permanent home for the youth club. Here is a video of how I Am The Change helped Courtney with her campaign:
Following this success, NUS is relaunching the project this week. It's very easy for a college or university student to feel unable to change things. They may feel like an insignificant onlooker when it comes to big issues such as global politics, social inequality and racism, or even when it comes to comparatively 'small' issues such as student housing, bursaries and career guidance.
But change doesn't have to be daunting or intimidating. If you make an effort to recycle, you're saying "I believe in a cleaner world, and I care". If you refuse to buy clothes from a company that uses child labour, you're taking a stand against exploitation.
Courtney Giles didn't automatically identify as an activist but she did know that she wanted to make a change and what this resulted in was actually a successful anti-cuts campaign. Even the most experienced campaigners know that true activism starts at grass roots level. Simple and immediate actions can have a profound effect when we work collectively with other people trying to achieve the same goal. And this could be anything, from writing to our MP to raising an issue at a local council meeting. Even our smallest choices make a difference, and some of them can end up having a bigger effect than we could possibly have imagined.
Be the Change now at www.nus.org.uk/iamthechange
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