by Jason Ludwig
The future of advocacy – the future of Federal Way – lies in the heart, mind, and talent of motivated youths like Leo Rojas.
Leo, a 16-year-old sophomore at Decatur High School, is a passionate advocate for his community. Where others see problems, Leo sees solutions, and he acts on it with his blend of energy and creativity.
He’s involved in numerous charities and social justice activities, including the “Committee for Homelessness” service club at Decatur.
“If it’s something that will help a community and work toward something, I’ll get involved,” Leo said. “People need to connect their actions to their words.”
More recently, Leo saw a chance to help elect citizen-focused leaders to his hometown City Council. He offered to donate his time and talents to Federal Way City Councilmember Martin Moore’s re-election efforts after Moore paid a visit to Decatur to speak at a Committee For Homelessness meeting.
“Martin came to speak to us, and afterwards we talked about who he was and what he was doing for the community,” Leo said. “I didn’t know him before then.”
Moore himself became interested in community leadership and local governance at about Leo’s age. The Councilmember, 35, still vividly recalls a U.S. Senator’s visit to his own high school as a future-defining meeting.
“Senator Patty Murray came to my government class and talked to us about government, state politics, life in Washington DC, different policies,” Moore said. “It had a profound impact on me and really got me interested and involved. It’s a big part of why I try to visit with high school students every chance I get, to hopefully spark that same fire in them.”
Moore’s visit indeed struck a chord, particularly in Leo. And Leo, being the young man that he is, decided to get involved. He asked what he could do to help, and Moore mentioned that he was looking for a design for his campaign’s official T-shirt.
Leo happily offered that he could do something like that, and the newly minted campaign volunteer got to work.
“I looked at Martin’s positions on his website, and I started drawing something that would connect to that,” Leo said. “I came up with families, people with disabilities, working people – things like that.”
What he came up with won rave reviews when it was worn en masse by Team Martin Moore at the Federal Way Coalition Against Trafficking’s most recent “Break the Chains Annual 5K” on May 20. It continues to appear, more individually, at all of Moore’s events.
It also got high marks from the candidate himself.
“I just love it,” Moore said. “The design that Leo put together is incredibly well-done, professional-looking, and meaningful. It really speaks to my appreciation for Federal Way’s diversity and my pledge to keep fostering and leveraging that diversity. That it came from a student who was inspired to get involved, someone about the same age as when I first got involved, makes it even more special.
“I tell you, Leo Rojas is a tremendous talent. Keep an eye on him.”
For now, Federal Way residents have Leo’s work all to themselves: It can be seen firsthand at Re-Elect Martin Moore events.
“I’m glad Martin gave me the opportunity to do that,” Leo said. “I’m glad I could show the community I care and show what I can do.”