A voice for change

Jones junior working to advocate for Chicago youth


Jones student Anabelle Sanchez ‘24 is working to make a positive impact on Chicago’s youth, alongside other CPS students in City Hall.

The Mayor’s Youth Commission is a diverse cohort of 24 students from across the city working to advocate for Chicago’s youth via collaboration with the mayor and policy-makers. As Vice Chair of the Commission’s Public Health Committee, Sanchez is helping organize a mental health campaign targeted at CPS students.

“We’re currently working with the Chicago Department of Public Health to create a video campaign to send out to CPS students,” said Sanchez. “We noticed that there are a lot of disparities in mental health, specifically with youth. The city has a website called Unspoken with the Chicago Department of Public Health, and not a lot of people know about it. The website is very adult-catered, so we’re trying to make it more youth-driven.”

Anoushka Lal, a junior at Walter Payton College Prep and Chair of the Public Health Committee alongside Sanchez, believes Sanchez is helping make a positive impact on the city.

“I would describe Anabelle as incredibly easy to get along with, very dedicated and mature and one of the best friends I have made through the Mayor’s Youth Commission,” said Lal. “With her help, our team has accomplished so much in the span of just a couple months with the mission to make mental health resources more accessible for Chicago teens.”

In addition to her work on the Youth Commission, Sanchez is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s NextGen Latino Leadership program, which prepares Latino students to become future leaders of change in their communities.

“I get to spend a week in Washington, D.C., and we’re going to have a chance to go to Congress and have discussions on very important issues affecting our government and the Latino population in general,” said Sanchez. “I’m really interested in politics, so hopefully [the program helps] lead into that type of career field. But really, it’s all about making a difference in any way you can.”

Sanchez’s interest in politics began in middle school while being a part of her school’s student council, and grew more passionately during the 2020 election.

“In middle school, I was president for two out of my three years on the student council, so I think it really started there,” said Sanchez. “Then, with the 2020 elections and when we were all cooped up in our houses, I got pretty invested in politics.”

Hoping to uplift Jones’ student voices, Sanchez was recently elected as Local School Council Representative, with plans to improve communication between the Jones administration and students.

“I think communication is a huge thing, and on social media, a lot of students have been questioning why students are not being included in certain emails, especially when it involves student safety,” said Sanchez. “Obviously you can’t solve all the problems, but I think we can bring attention and emphasis to certain things like student safety, and communication in general.”

Some social science teachers have recognized Sanchez’s interest in politics and leadership qualities.

“She clearly shows a great interest in political science,” said AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher Jorge Perez. “She’s a great student to have in class and obviously very eager to learn. She always tries her best, which is the most important.”

While juggling school and work with the Mayor’s Youth Commission can be difficult, Sanchez believes it is important to find a balance between work, school and a social life.

“I think it’s about finding the time and making the time to do [work],” said Sanchez. “It’s really about the timing and not burning yourself out too much.”

Outside of school and working for the Mayor’s Youth Commission, Sanchez enjoys taking time for herself to de-stress and focus on her hobbies.

“I like to listen to music a lot and like to read. Photography is another thing, I have digital and film cameras, so I like to take shots whenever I can,” said Sanchez.

For Sanchez, there is no greater instrument for change than having your voice heard.

“I am someone who likes to talk a lot in terms of public speaking and I know a lot of people kind of fear it, but I see it as a form of empowerment,” said Sanchez. “I think you can really make a difference with having your voice heard.”