Wilton High School sophomore Isabella “Izzy” King is one of more than 60 Connecticut high school students participating in VOICE, a new legislative initiative program that gives students the opportunity to advocate for legislation to help close the education gap within the state.

The program launched Wednesday, Sept. 14, with a kickoff event at the State Capitol Building in Hartford. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, State Department of Education (SDE) Literacy Director Melissa Hickey and Gov. Dannel Malloy were among the event’s featured speakers.

Through the program, students like King will work towards passing legislation in the next legislative session and start new community initiatives, including a statewide book drive.

Izzy said she decided to get involved with VOICE over the summer.

“I wasn't aware of the program until my teacher asked if I was interested,” she said. “Right away, I knew I wanted to be a part of it for one reason — to help people.”

Trumbull High School student Isha Dalal founded the program after volunteering for New Haven Reads, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy, and realizing there is a large population of students who are not afforded the same educational opportunities that she has been.

Through the VOICE program, Isha said, she wants “every student to know that they can make a difference despite their age, their background, or their interests.”

To learn more, visit ctvoice.org.