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Once a young person has had a dream, built a team, and changed his or her world, he or she has the power to express love and respect in action–the heart of what brings health, longevity, and happiness. He or she will be a changemaker for life. . . a real contributor in a world where value increasingly comes from changemaking and not, as it has for millennia, from efficiency in repetition.

– Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO, Ashoka

 

The rate of change is accelerating exponentially. The new game is change. But young people are not being equipped with the tools to thrive in disruptive change. They continue on an assembly line designed to get them to adopt vocations which are now phasing out- a vestige of the past. Today’s society needs for everyone to be a changemaker.  It needs every young person, parent, and educator to grasp that a new learning framework is needed for navigating the changemaker world successfully.  They need a new set of competencies: empathy, co-creative teamwork, a new leadership style where everyone is empowered to lead, and changemaking for the good of all. To master these competencies takes practice from a young age. 
 
The collection of stories below shine a light on great changemakers who have led young and practiced early changemaking.  The stories demonstrate the factors --guidance from parents, teachers, peers and others-- that helped them begin their changemaking journey as a teen and how the #LeadYoung experience set them up for success in the new paradigm of an everyone a changemaker world. Learn more about how to get involved in LeadYoung.

 

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Stories


#LeadYoung - Mahika Halepete: Empowering the next generation of changemakers around the world

We live in a world that is changing rapidly, and not always for the good of all.  How do we ensure that we can come up with solutions faster than the problems? Mahika’s story shows that if all of us, particularly young people, had the opportunities and support to solve the problems they care about, then our world would be a much kinder, fairer and better place for everyone.

#LeadYoung - Ara Kusuma: Since 10 years old, changemaking for the love of cows

What if everyone grew up following their passions to change things in their communities for the better? What if we all felt supported by their families, their schools, their neighbors? Our fast changing world today demands a new set of skills: to see a problem, understand it deeply, develop a solution and form a team to make it happen.  This is what Ara did from the age of 10 in Central Java, Indonesia. Her story shows how an early start at changemaking set her on a changemaking pathway for life.

#LeadYoung - Sarah Toumi: Leading change in rural areas of Tunisia since the age of 11

Starting your journey as a changemaker in your teens sticks with you for a lifetime.  Whether it is solving a problem affecting your family or close friends or something much larger affecting your community, the experience helps you know that whatever the world throws your way, you are a giver, you are powerful, you are a changemaker.  That confidence will stay with you throughout your life.

#LeadYoung - Why Waste? Learning to See the Glass as Half Full

Garvita Gulhati, now 18, is helping students in her high school see that age is not a limit to solving problems you care about. At 15 years old, she and her friend, Pooja S. Tanawade, did just that. They started “Why Waste?,” an organization educating citizens about creative ways to reduce water waste — starting with restaurants where four million gallons of water are wasted per year in India.

#LeadYoung - DIY Environmentalist

Ashoka Fellow Shannon Dosemagen invented do-it-yourself environmentalism. Her organization Public Lab uses inexpensive materials and MacGyver-like tools to make it possible for anyone to explore and monitor environmental hazards like pollutants in their communities.

#LeadYoung - Overcoming Her Shyness, She Helped Hundreds Become Changemakers

Greta is pursuing a vision of helping all youth become leaders in Mexico’s society

#LeadYoung - Anshul Tewari Created India’s Largest Youth Media Platform at Age 17

Anshul Tewari was dismayed that cultural taboos are producing “a culture of silence that is pushing an entire generation away from changemaking.”

#LeadYoung - How Kevin Ochi is Part of a Movement that is Transforming the Lives of 15,000 Young People in Argentina

Kevin spent his adolescence in an institution. Upon graduation, he realized that his experience could be useful to others. Together with his peers at Guía Egreso, a group of youth which arose from Doncel NGO, Kevin is transforming the lives of 15,000 young people from Argentina who, just like him, are forced to leave the care system when they turn 18.

#Lead Young - From Filing Patents at 13 Years Old, to being the CEO of HATCH

It's not everyday you hear about young children questioning the status quo, revolutionizing the automobile industry, or filing for patents at age 13. But they’re out there, and this is the story of one.

#LeadYoung - Hacking the Self, then Hacking the System

It is not everyday you hear about young children questioning the status quo, revolutionizing the automobile industry, or filing for patents at age 13. But they’re out there, and this is the story of one. Today, Param Jaggi is a 23-year-old entrepreneur and social activist. He is the founder of Hatch, a simple and user-friendly app creation company. But to get here, his changemaker journey started when he was a teenager.

To learn more about Param’s work and journey, write to him at param@hatchapps.com

Ways to engage further:

#Lead Young - Bodkin Elementary School Embraces a Culture of Meaning

At Bodkin Elementary School in Maryland’s Chesapeake region, 10 and 11 year olds share what it means for them to be powerful today and #LeadYoung. Here, young people are learning how to navigate a world that is rapidly changing by following their passions and creating their own solutions to issues facing their communities.  Changemaking is the new literacy and starting young makes all the difference.

#LeadYoung - At 17, Gino Tubaro started transforming kids with disabilities into super heroes

At the age of 17, Gino Tubaro received a letter from a desperate mother. “Please make my boy, Felipe, a hand,” it said. “We cannot afford a prosthetic.” Gino had been inventing things since the age of 13. His own mother had taken him to science fairs and invention workshops, pushing him to follow his passion for technology.

"Where would I be if I only had one hand?” Gino acquired a 3D printer the year before and saw endless possibilities for his own future as an inventor. But Felipe’s hand soon became his obsession.

#LeadYoung - A peer community helped Ajay find his power as a changemaker in his teens

Raised in a farming village outside of Bangalore, India, Ajay Gopi was pushed to be an electrician like his father but he knew he wanted to explore and create something new. .  He left home to join a “makerspace” called Project DEFY –started by 24-year-old Abhijit Sinha-- where kids were in charge of their learning to explore problems and issues they cared about.  Ajay cared most about the farmers, like those he grew up with, who had an alarming suicide rate due to drought induced debt.

#LeadYoung - Two Bangalore teens, Ashwini (16) and Priya (17), created Jazba to link young people’s passion for arts with fundraising for meaningful social change.

Ashwini and Priya were passionate about singing and acting, but they,like other young people they knew, had few spaces to perform.  Together they founded Jazba, a local, youth-run “India’s Got Talent” to give young people a space to perform where all proceeds go to a hand-picked local social change organization.  In a world that is changing rapidly, accelerating social problems need accelerated solutions.  Ashwini and Priya demonstrate that young people have the power today to #LeadYoung and steer that change for the good of all. Read their story below:
 

#LeadYoung - Jeroo Billimoria: a global movement that started with a simple gesture in her teens

A social entrepreneur known for building huge, global coalitions, Jeroo first started in Mumbai, working with street children. She gave them her private phone number in case of emergencies.

Soon every night it was ringing.

From that caring and then recognition of system need came Childline. Any street child could call a free number and be answered by a trained and sympathetic street child. Shortly thereafter help would be on the way.

#LeadYoung - Richard Branson: finding new ways to do business and impact the world since he was 16

There are few if any entrepreneurs who have ventured more successfully in more businesses than Richard Branson.  And who can compete with him in terms of flair?

#LeadYoung - Peter Eigen: fearless since 13, he's changed the world’s mindset about corruption

Corruption long was a taboo subject. Bribes in some countries were tax-deductible. That mindset changed when Peter, having seen the untold damage it was doing, especially in his earlier work in development, founded and built up Transparency International.

#LeadYoung - Robin Chase: leading one entrepreneurial coup after another, like Zipcar

If anyone understands the profound transformation of society that is now upon us, it is Robin Chase. (See her admired book, Peers Inc.)

She not only sees it clearly; but she also, in one entrepreneurial coup after another, is putting its new architecture in place. She co-founded Zipcar and was its first CEO. Then she created and led Buzzcar. A bit like AirBnB, it allows you to rent out your idle car or truck to others.

#LeadYoung - JP Maunes: putting accessibility and inclusion center stage in the Philippines

In April 2016, JP Maunes became a household name in the Philippines when his sign language interpretation for a heated presidential debate led a number of prominent media personalities to name him as the winner.

Memes with JP’s exhausted hands bursting into flames went viral on social media.He was under the spotlight. And ready to play along.

#LeadYoung - Felipe Vergara: redefining access to education through a multi-million dollar financing innovation

For many young people around the world, paying for college tuition locks them into decades of debt. It forces them to forego purpose-oriented jobs like teaching because those salaries will not cover their loan payments. For those who can’t find employment or lose their jobs, their fixed loan payments can drag them into even greater debt that is hard to recover from. Colombian social entrepreneur, Felipe Vergara, created Lumni to give students new options for funding their college tuition.

#LeadYoung - Temple Grandin: “The thing about changing something is that it’s long, hard, sustained work.”

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, has revolutionized the livestock industry. By putting herself in the place of the cattle, she developed a series of equipment designs and a simple rating system to help the industry adopt new practices that reduce animals’ stress and injuries to both animals and workers. Today, more than half of the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in facilities that use Temple’s designs, with uptake now across the world, from Brazil to Australia and New Zealand. “This didn’t happen overnight,” Temple shares.

#LeadYoung - Dario Riccobono: mobilizing young Italians against the Sicilian mob in Italy since he was 13 years old

When Dario Riccobono was 13, his little-known hometown of Capaci in Sicily, Italy was suddenly thrust onto the world stage.  A massive explosion orchestrated by the mafia took down a portion of the nearby highway and with it the renowned anti-mafia prosecutor, Judge Giovanni Falcone, who was driving to his home.  

#LeadYoung - Valeria Budinich: Helping social entrepreneurs to access capital and resources to scale their initiatives

Valeria Budinich is a social entrepreneur and organizational strategist with 25 years’ experience specializing in high-impact business/social entrepreneurship. 

#LeadYoung - Eli Beer: Revolutionizing emergency response and uniting people in Israel and the world

When he was only 6-years-old, Eli Beer and his brother witnessed a bus bombing while walking home from school in Jerusalem. Eli heard someone calling out for help from amidst the chaos, but he didn’t know what to do and ran from the scene.  

#LeadYoung - Bill Drayton: "Once a young person has had a dream, built a team, and changed their world… they will be a changemaker for life"

In elementary school I could not imagine why I was being tortured by Latin or Math, and my perception of soccer was chiefly that of being a crashee.

But I loved starting things, especially newspapers. Once I had saved enough to buy a mimeograph machine (the prior technology being typing hard with as many carbon copy sheets as possible), I was unstoppable.

#LeadYoung - Where the wild things start: How Nicole Rycroft’s early love of nature inspired her environmental career

Ashoka Fellow Nicole Rycroft is protecting ancient forests by working with global book publishers, newspapers, magazines, and fashion brands to shift to alternative and sustainably produced wood-based fabrics and paper. Her environmental NGO Canopy counts more than 750 large customer companies from H&M to publishers of the Harry Potter series as partners in this fight.

#LeadYoung - Growing up in a world of change: two girls in Bangalore fighting water waste

Two girls in Bangalore saw the problem of waste around them. With inspiration and guidance from the work of Ashoka Fellow Kuldeep Dantewadia, they launched their own initiative to reduce water waste. Their story of how to #LeadYoung highlights the new way of growing up in a world of change.  It takes caring and empathy to understand issues that affect us all and teamwork and collaboration to develop solutions that resonate with everyone.

#LeadYoung - 17-year-old Tura, founder of Street Children’s Theater in Bangladesh, shared her thoughts on what it takes to #LeadYoung

When she was just 13,  Tahua Tura of Bangladesh started expanding her theater troupe to include street children, primarily living in closed-off communities once referred to as “untouchables”.  Her early experiences accompanying her aunt, Ashoka Fellow Safura Begum, to poor communities and interacting with the children had helped her see that, like her, they enjoyed creative arts but simply didn’t have access to them.

#LeadYoung - Three Kolkata teenagers shows what it takes to grow up solving social problems in today’s world

In a world where social problems are on the rise, a growing number of young people are leading the solutions. Ashoka Youth Venturer, Prateek Agarwal resisted the pressures to focus only on academic studies when faced with a dire issue: the proliferation of plastic bags choking the environment in Kolkata.  His deep-rooted passion for the environment and volunteerism exposed him early to waste issues and gave him the confidence to #LeadYoung.

#LeadYoung - Saving gorillas by saving people: how Gladys Kalema transformed her teenage passion for animals into a radical social innovation

As a new graduate from veterinary school, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka invented her first job. She wrote to the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, laying out her research explaining just how critical it was to create a role for a veterinarian within the organization. Prior to her letter, the general practice was that wildlife should be left to the circle of life, without any intervention. At the same time, public health programs were managed separately from conservation programs in wildlife-protected areas, using a parallel set of institutions.

#LeadYoung - Allan van der Meulen: How to become a changemaker inspring others to thrive in a challenging context

At 19, Allan van der Meulen stumbled upon Ashoka Fellow Marlon Parker’s RLabs where he was put in charge of helping other young people like himself learn new skills and knowledge.  He soon started facilitating classes, leading new programs and putting his own ideas into practice.

#LeadYoung - Simon Stumpf on early changemaking: "In the world today, we will all be called upon to lead at some point"

Simon Stumpf, Director of Ashoka’s Fellow selection program in the U.S., shares how he seized his own opportunity to lead as pre-teen when family circumstances demanded and how he didn’t stop there.  As a parent today facing a world of great change and challenges, he shares his thoughts on what it will take to have his own children #LeadYoung.

#LeadYoung - Gonzalo Muñoz: "It is impossible to deny that most of the inspiration my three siblings and I received came from our parents"

In today’s rapidly changing world, a young person’s ability to lead, be part of a team, practice changemaking and express empathy are increasingly important skills. Ashoka turned to Ashoka Fellows Gonzalo Muñoz and Ximena Abogabir to understand what it takes to raise children who can contribute to positive change.  They are two leading social entrepreneurs from Chile who have individually changed the face of large-scale recycling and environmental education in Chile respectively.  However, they share something even more powerful:  Gonzalo is Ximena’s son.
 

#LeadYoung: a common passion for changemaking unites two Brazilian teens from different backgrounds

Separately they were committed to helping young people, together they opened new pathways for youth across continents to connect, follow their passions and thrive.  

#LeadYoung - Ximena Abogabir: "If you are deeply convinced that your child is a changemaker, he or she will become one"

As part two of this two part #LeadYoung series, Ashoka asks Ashoka Fellow Ximena Abogabir, mother to Ashoka Fellow Gonzalo Muñoz, about her childhood, her role as a mother and her philosophy for parenting Gonzalo and her two other changemaker children.

#LeadYoung - Joshua Williams: Igniting a movement of young changemakers to support people experiencing homelessness and poverty

Today’s world is fast. It’s connected.  It’s unpredictable and uncertain. But also full of possibilities. Joshua’s story is more than the story of one young person leading young.  It is the story of creating a culture and a pathway to help thousands of young people know they have the power to change their world. 

 

#LeadYoung - Peyton Klein: Creating a two-way stream of inclusion and cultural understanding

Change is happening all around us, all the time. How do we face it? Are we afraid or do we see new possibilities? When new immigrant and refugee students started coming to her school, Peyton Klein saw the possibility for mutual learning and support.

#LeadYoung - Chirag Vedullapalli: Exploring the creativity of children for charity

The transition from the old world of rules, repetition and hierarchies requires for everyone to be a giver, “Everyone a Changemaker”. Chirag’s story touches on how nurturing the creative power of youth can transform into a tool for social change.

#LeadYoung - Josh Kaplan: A teenager who wants to ensure everyone is a player

Teamwork is critical in order to be effective in a world that is changing fast. In order to succeed, every team must ensure that every player is contributing. Josh’s story is a wonderful example on how every young person is empowered to be a player and learns how to create change for the good of all.

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