8 Young Activists You Need to Hear From Today
More and more, the people leading the charge for positive change in the world can be found in the high school classrooms of our nation and across the globe. Take Greta Thunberg for instance; the high school student inspired a climate strike across the globe among students, challenging politicians to brainstorm a solution for climate change.
She’s not the only one, either.
That’s why we want to help empower girls everywhere to be the change they want to see in the world. We spoke to a few of them to share their #GirlPower with advice from one girl to another. We asked them one question:
What advice do you have for young people who want to get involved in activism but don’t know where to start?
1. Zuriel Oduwole
Zuriel Oduwole is the founder of Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up, and has delivered her message to 30 presidents and more than 25,000 students.
“They must first have a topic or issue that they are passionate about. They have to know that there is work involved. They have to know that they need to put everything they have and everything they have got into growing their movement and making a change. A successful person is not defined as someone who never fails. A successful person is defined as someone who fails… but never gives up.” – Zuriel Oduwole
2. Quannah Chasinghorse
Quannah Chasinghorse is a member of the Han Gwich’in and Lakota Sioux nations. Her climate justice advocacy helped contribute to the recent passing of the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act.
“Some advice for youth who want to get more involved is to reach out to your local community and start there. Reach out to whatever cause or movement in your area and get involved. It’s super fun and easy. We are standing to keep our earth pretty, clean, and green. Listen to each other, learn from each other, and fight [alongside] each other.” – Quannah Chasinghorse
3. Jamie Margolin
Jamie Margolin is the founder of Zero Hour and the author of the forthcoming Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It, a guidebook for young changemakers.
“Begin with a problem that is close to home, both physically and emotionally. What has been bothering you, what issue can you not get out of your heart and mind? Start there. From there it takes a simple Google search to find a local organization that tackles that issue. Just sit in on a meeting and take it from there!” – Jamie Margolin
4. Amika George
Amika George is a student, activist and the founder of Free Periods, a campaign to end period poverty worldwide. In 2018, she was recognized by TIME as one of the 25 most influential teens in the world.
“If you have an idea, or if you want to start a campaign, it’s achieavable through the power of social media and getting together with your friends and just talking openly and often about quite difficult and often taboo subjects, you can make change.” -Amika George, as quoted on BBC4
5. Mari Copeny (@littlemissflint)
Mari Copeny is an activist working to ensure kids in Flint, Michigan, have access to clean water. Since 2016, she has helped raise over $500,000 with the nonprofit organization Pack Your Back.
“Taking the first step is the hardest part but once you do it and focus on the activism that matters to you, you will find you are not alone.” – Mari Copeny
6. Aryaana Khan
Aryaana Khan is a climate advocate who serves on the Youth Fundraising Advisory Board for the Alliance for Climate Education. She is dedicated to amplifying “the voices that don’t get to negotiate with global leaders.”
“Start small. Look within—and towards the communities—you come from, and ask yourself about all the stories you and people know. Is there a common thread connecting all these stories? For me, I thought a lot about the floods and hurricanes, and the effects they have on the different communities I come from. As a young person who could not even vote to give these issues the limelight, activism looked a lot like me educating myself, and all those around me. The goal is not to change the world alone but to do something—anything—that can create a ripple. So, start small.”
7. Maya Penn
Maya Penn is a CEO, eco-designer, activist, and founder of Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet, a nonprofit that “strives to embetter our planet and support, uplift and empower girls/youth and those in need around the world.”
“Identify the passions and the issues that speak to you. Is there some way you can use your skills, interests, etc. to make a difference? Whether it’s starting an initiative to make an impact, raising money to give back, or using art to advocate, be creative on how you can make a difference. Also, look for areas of need. Can you start an initiative in your school or community? Are there initiatives, organizations or nonprofits that you would like to be a part of? Reach out. There is so much opportunity to make change.” – Maya Penn
8. Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman is a poet, author, and activist and was the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. She is also the founder and executive director of One Pen One Page, an organization that “promotes literacy through free creative writing programming for underserved youth.”
“Act locally, think globally. It can be daunting to feel like you alone have to change the world. But here’s the good news: You are not alone. We are a movement. Second, being an activist in your club, your school, your home, your neighborhood garden, your community elections, is exactly the local advocacy that will rock the world.” – Amanda Gorman
Share their story!
Know a young changemaker whose story deserves to be told? Connect with us on social media for features on our student-powered Instagram page or simply fill out our XQ guest blog contributor form here.