Dane Best is only 9 years old. But he recently persuaded his town to lift a ban on snowball fights that had been in place since 1920.
Even though he’s young, he taught everyone a lesson in what it means to be an activist.
The ban was part of a larger town ordinance that “made it illegal to throw or shoot stones or missiles at people, animals, buildings, trees, any other public or private property or vehicles,” the Associated Press reported. Snowballs counted as “missiles.”
“I think it’s an outdated law,” Best said. “I want to be able to throw a snowball without getting in trouble.”
Assistant to the Severance Town Administrator Kyle Rietkerk said kids are surprised by the ban every winter, and town leaders had been encouraging them to try to get it repealed for years. But Best was the first one to get involved with government and take action to make a change.
And it worked. Town Board trustees voted unanimously to lift the ban.
The Best Way
Best had originally asked his mother to change the law.
“I said, ‘I’m not going to fight to change the law. If you feel this is something you want changed, then let’s take the steps and see if it’s something you could do,’” she told Good Morning America.
Of course, one of the first steps to changing a law is starting a grassroots campaign.
So, Best asked 20 of his classmates to sign a petition to show support for his effort. He also recruited them to help him write letters in support of lifting the ban.
To be an effective activist, you must also make sure your message is reaching lawmakers — and that it’s compelling.
Best gave a five-minute PowerPoint presentation in front of about 150 people during a meeting at Town Hall. He talked about how the town ordinance was outdated and gave reasons why the ban should be lifted.
“Today kids need reasons to play outside,” he said during his presentation. “The children of Severance want the opportunity to have a snowball fight like the rest of the world.”
What He — and We — Learned
“You can change laws,” Best said, when asked what he learned about government through this process. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can have a voice in your town.”
And not only can we have a voice in how government is run, but we should use it. This is an important lesson we need to remember throughout our lives.
The Constitution gives us the right to voice our opinions about government and try to make a change. Although he’s young, Best is a good example of what activism can do.
Even when it comes to larger policy areas — such as criminal justice reform, taxes and government spending — petitions, presentations and letter-writing are important activism tools.