There’s no age limit for political activism.
Local high students have gained valuable experience this year volunteering with political campaigns. They’ve phone banked, waved signs, gone door to door and attended rallies to help candidates’ local and statewide campaigns.
“I’m only 16, so I can’t vote, but I still want to help out with the political climate in the community,” said Jad Darazim, a junior at Glynn Academy who worked for Julie Jordan’s campaign for the House District 179 seat and Lisa Ring’s campaign for Congress. “So I feel like doing it is the best possible way to help out the community and contribute in some way.”
Darazim was one of four local high school students who spent many afternoons after school this year volunteering at the Glynn County Democrats headquarters in downtown Brunswick.
“We can’t vote, so I feel like this makes me feel really active in the community,” he said. “It’s a really good experience.”
Students have gotten involved with both Democratic and Republican campaigns. In Camden County, the recently-founded Teen Republicans club worked for Brian Kemp’s campaign for governor, Geoff Duncan’s campaign for lieutenant governor and William Ligon’s campaign for the state senate.
The club’s founder, Ellis Davis, a sophomore at Camden County High School, also worked over the summer for U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter’s office.
The club’s members also traveled around the state this year to see Republican leaders speak, including a recent rally in Savannah at which Vice President Mike Pence spoke and an event in Macon where President Donald Trump endorsed Kemp. They attended Kemp’s watch party in Athens on Tuesday night to see the governor’s race results come in.
“We’ve met a lot of people — congressmen, state representatives,” said Davis, who serves as the club’s chairman “We actually went to the National Teen Age Republicans conference in Washington D.C.”
He said the club’s members met U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee at the conference.
“It’s brought us to Atlanta for the state convention,” Davis said. “It brought us to Washington D.C. We’ve really been able to meet a lot of people, and we’ve learned a lot about politics.”
Carla Davis, Ellis’s mom, said the club played an important role in helping Steven Sainz defeat the incumbent Jason Spencer for the House District 180 seat.
Her son wanted to found a club that would provide a way for young Republicans to help the party grow, she said.
“The goal is to grow the Republican party and get Republican candidates elected,” she said.
The club’s membership grew quickly, she said, soon after it was founded.
“They, in their first year, became the largest Teen Republican Club in Georgia, and that ignited other clubs to start to grow, and they’ve been recognized all over Georgia for that,” she said.
Ellis, along with the club’s vice chairman Bryson Morrison, was selected to represent Camden County on the Georgia Teen Republicans executive board this year.
He said he hopes to see more people his age take a serious interest in politics.
“I would tell them to get involved,” he said. “It really influences their life. We’re going to have to pay taxes someday … That $22 trillion dollar deficit is going to to affect us in a lot of ways.”
Volunteering for political campaigns can also be more educational than learning about politics in class, said Madison Cornelius, a Glynn Academy junior who worked for Jordan and Ring’s campaigns.
“I like politics and government, so it’s really showing me how it actually works, rather just reading it out of a textbook,” Cornelius said. “It’s really interesting.”
She said some may not take high school students as seriously, because they’re so young.
“You’re never too young to help your country,” said Monty Hughes, a Glynn Academy junior who worked for Jordan and Ring’s campaigns.
The students also recognize that they’re the country’s future decision makers.
“I can’t vote, but I can canvass, put up signs…I can call people,” Davis said. “I can make a difference.”