Oklahoma Muslim Gamechangers is the newest youth program of CAIR-OK. The mission of OMG is to provide an opportunity for Muslim high school students from across Oklahoma to develop and utilize leadership skills that will enable them to both enhance the understanding of Islam in Oklahoma and facilitate the development of the Muslim American identity.
“Where are the Muslim youth groups?”
CAIR-OK started working closely with Muslim youth 8 years ago when we launched our Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium, which remains our most successful youth program to date. But MYLS is geared towards college age students and we found many high school students were eager to have their own program. Several high school students approached us and said, “Christian youth groups are such a large part of social life for students our age — can we create a similar Muslim youth group?”
Zoya Sattar, one of the young women who approached us about creating the program, put it this way:
“I began to formulate the idea of such a program after the first Muslim Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol, when I felt that the youth in our community needed a setting in which to learn the skills to tackle the issues Muslims face today. With the learning of these skills, we would be better equipped to face our problems head on… This is a must. Muslim youth must learn how to transform our current hostile surroundings into more accepting ones.”
We answered the call of Zoya and others and got to work creating an outline for a program that will educate and empower Muslim youth in Oklahoma to become outstanding leaders in all settings.
The Program: Empowering Muslim Youth
Drawing on our most successful years of MYLS, Shehla Fazili, one of CAIR-OK’s interns, wrote a curriculum centered around three major themes: Muslim Americans Past and Present, Enhancing the Understanding of Islam in America, and Careers in the Muslim Community. Over the course of the fall semester, the program will offer seven sessions, culminating in a graduation ceremony for participants.
During the first month, students will focus on exploring the roots and development of Muslim American identity, their family histories, and the current positive impacts of Islam on society. Students will then take this knowledge and spend a day at the Oklahoma State Capitol, meeting with legislators and other elected officials. As they learn about the process of government, they will also learn about the relationship between faith and government, and the importance of civic engagement (even if you can’t vote yet).
The second month of the program is oriented towards building up student’s knowledge of stereotypes, the way Islam is presented in the media, and other issues that affect the Muslim American community. After engaging in media workshops with CAIR-OK staff, students will visit the News Channel 9 Broadcasting Station to learn about the process of local media and see the news broadcast in real time.
In the final month of the program, CAIR-OK staff will be joined by other Muslim leaders and professionals to talk to students about careers that serve the Muslim community. Students will also participate in workshops about professionalism, business dress, and networking.
We will wrap up the program with a graduation ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of our young people throughout the semester.