I first became involved with Young America’s Foundation and its chapter affiliate Young Americans for Freedom during my freshman year of high school. My mother, having been involved with Young America’s Foundation for years, figured that attending a high school conference at the Reagan Ranch would be a good experience for me. I already held some conservative viewpoints—thanks to being raised in a Roman Catholic, conservative activist family—going into that weekend. However, upon returning home from my first YAF conference, those beliefs truly became my own. I better understood the Left’s drift toward socialism, the dangers of political correctness, and the progressive destruction of core American values. Most importantly, I learned that I can help fight it.
My desire for knowledge grew, and with it my desire to attend more conferences. I started to notice both the subtle and explicit leftist messages that were being pushed in my classrooms. To present conservative ideas, I began organizing YAF activism projects on my Catholic high school’s campus and started a Young Americans for Freedom chapter. We hosted events such as the 9/11: Never Forget Project and set out 2,977 flags—one for each life lost in the vicious terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. Our YAF chapter coordinated a prayer service that brought together the whole community: the fire department, EMTs, veterans, the school chaplain, Knights of Columbus, and the entire student body came together to remember the lives stolen that day.
Despite the overwhelming success of our 9/11 memorial events, our private Catholic school disbanded our Young Americans for Freedom chapter. The staff at Young America’s Foundation gave me the confidence and support to push forward despite the intolerance of our school administrators. Rather than give up our activism, we continued to host events at off-campus venues. YAF stood by my chapter every step of the way, offering us advice and moral support. No matter what hurdle the administration put in front of us, YAF had seen it before and knew how to help us. Soon, I was working with surrounding public high school students to establish more Young Americans for Freedom chapters in surrounding communities.
As a result of this increasing involvement, YAF started to give me opportunities to speak at conferences and help out other high school students across the country who found themselves in similar situations. That is one of the things I really love about YAF: They help to develop and nurture conservative student activists by giving them opportunities to grow and lead.
When Young Americans for Freedom asked me to be National High School Chairman, I was thrilled and honored. YAF’s message, as well as how they spread it, is making a difference across the country. It changes perspectives and empowers young activists.
This new role shows YAF’s continued focus on high school chapters and the Left’s work to spread their flawed ideas to younger students. High school curricula, social media, and popular culture are saturating the lives of teenagers with radical, progressive ideas. Socialism is normalized and celebrated while American history and our country’s founding values are denigrated.
America’s youth deserve a chance to hear different ideas, and Young Americans for Freedom is making that possible. I can confidently say that working with Young Americans for Freedom throughout high school has been one of the most formative and positive influences on my political perspective and in my personal life. I am excited and proud to take on a role that will allow me to continue helping YAF spread their messages of freedom, free markets, and traditional American values.
Jack Duffy is the National High School Chairman of Young Americans for Freedom.
Learn more about YAF’s activism projects including the upcoming Freedom Week initiative.