Young People Making a Difference – By Lily Rabbitt

Many American teenagers are not unfamiliar to the concept of procrastination. Usually they apply the phrase to homework assignments, but it can also be a good term to describe attitudes towards other things in life. Teenagers have personal views on politics, the social climate, and how our society should look, but often don’t actually seek out acting on these ideas. They push it off to the future and say that it is something that they will do later, when they’re older, as if adulthood will give them a magical key to solving problems. 

Many teenagers follow this line of thinking, yet there are also a significant number who overcome it and have impacted their world despite– or sometimes even because of– their youth. 

Greta Thunberg  

“The eyes of all future generations are upon you, and if you choose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you.” 

Greta is a 17-year-old girl from Stockholm, Sweden, made famous for her “School Strike For Climate” protests she began practicing two years ago. These protests, and Greta herself, quickly went viral under the hashtag, “#Fridays for Future,” and teenagers around the world began skipping school on Fridays to protest for worldwide cuts to carbon emissions. 

She became a household name at 16 when she spoke to the UN at the Climate Action Summit, and while many were inspired by her words, she faced backlash and hate from world leaders and everyday people alike. After president Trump said in a Tweet that Greta “must work on her anger management problem,” Greta responded by posting the phrase in her own Twitter bio. 

When asked in a recent interview with National Geographic if Greta had any regrets in her advocacy, her reply was, “I feel like I have a moral duty to do what I can, since I’m a citizen. And that makes me part of something and it is my duty, my moral duty, my moral responsibility, to do everything I can.” Learn more or donate at https://fridaysforfuture.org/

Founders of March for Our Lives

“Enough is enough!”

On Valentines Day, 2018, 17 people were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In response, the student survivors founded March for Our Lives, an organization meant to advocate for government policies to prevent gun violence. 

On February 21, 2018,  the teenagers spoke to Congress at a Gun Control town hall, asking politicians to turn down NRA funding and saying that the previous methods of drills and lockdowns were simply not enough. Said then-junior Cameron Kasky, “Anyone who is willing to show change, no matter where they’re from, anyone who is willing to start to make a difference is somebody we need on our side here.” 

In the months following, particularly on March 14, 2018, one month after the shooting, students around the country walked out of class and protested, yelling chants such as “Never again,” and “Enough is enough.” 

Today, March For Our Lives continues to fight against gun violence and encourages young people everywhere to stand up for what they believe in. Learn more or donate at https://marchforourlives.com/

Malala Yousafzi 

“Extremists have shown what frightens them most: a girl with a book.”

On October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzi was a 15 year old girl in Mingora, Pakistan,  when she was shot in the head by Taliban on her bus ride home from school. 

The Taliban were an Islamic extremist group that were controlling the region. Among many other things, they thought that women should have no independence outside of the home, and because education gave them the resources to gain this independence, hundreds of girls’ schools were bombed and destroyed. 

At age 12, Malala began writing journals for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) explaining what her life was like and giving speeches on the importance of education. Over the next three years she became famous throughout Pakistan for her insistence that all girls deserved free, quality education. 

After being shot, Malala was flown to a hospital in Birmingham, England and spent weeks recovering. It was during this time when she became famous throughout the world, and found even more respect when, in early 2013, she began attending school in Birmingham. 

On her sixteenth birthday, she told her story to the United Nations in New York, and a year later received the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Along with her father, Malala created an organization called the Malala Fund, which to this day works to give girls around the world the right to go to school. Learn more or donate at https://malala.org/

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