In the midst of the controversy surrounding Roe v. Wade, protests took place across the United States and Ohio, and senior Maria Cantrell was an avid participant in these protests.
Cantrell said the overturning of Roe v. Wade increased her involvement in social activism.
Even though she couldn’t vote on issues herself, Cantrell explained that activism allowed her to express her knowledge and opinions on the matter.
“I was super frustrated with that whole situation,” she said.
To encourage more student involvement in social activism, Cantrell said she decided to start a club, Bexley High School Roe V. Wade Protests.
“I wanted to be a leader and help other people learn more about social activism and feel like their voices are heard,” Cantrell added.
The main goal of the club was to create an environment where students could express their thoughts and get involved in activism, she explained.
“I wanted them to feel they have a safe space to talk about what they don’t understand and what they want to do to make a difference,” Cantrell said.
The club met several times to research protests they could participate in, she said.
“I reached out to Planned Parenthood, and they said we could get involved in the protest they were holding,” Cantrell said. “We spent the entirety of the day with Planned Parenthood listening to speakers.”
She said about 20 people participated in the club and the protest.
“I created an Instagram for the group to spread information,” she said. “I think it’s really important to inform other people about what’s going on in the world because knowledge is such a skill.”
Cantrell said she was introduced to social activism by her parents. They protested Senate Bill 5 in 2011, she said, which would have prevented Ohio workers from unionizing, and they brought her to a protest with them.
Her early introduction sparked her interest in social activism, and she said she became more involved throughout middle and high school. Cantrell added she hopes to become even more politically active in college.
“I’m looking for schools that have a lot more social activism groups,” she said. “That’s something I’m really passionate about: getting more involved in university.”
Cantrell said she wishes more people valued voting.
“It might be the smallest topic, but it really does matter,” she said.
Through social activism, Cantrell said she discovered how much of an impact one person can have.
“One person encourages lots of people to speak up,” she said. “I think that it can be really empowering.”