From all parts of society, we are often told that those who are able to make global changes are supposed to look a certain way. We are shown leaders of global change who are mostly adults, usually older, typically have a lot of money, and are also often white men. However, every generation has seen young leaders rise to the responsibility of addressing difficult issues while leading change both in their communities and around the world. In recent years, more and more young people are joining together and using their skills to tackle the issues of climate change, global inequality, and issues of health. Here are four young people leading global change today:
Autumn is an indigenous girl from Canada and a member of the Wiikwemkoong First Nation. Fighting for clean water access for Canada’s indigenous population since the age of 13, Autumn stood in solidarity with Standing Rock in 2016 and raised awareness by organizing peaceful protests. She has been invited to World Water Day to be a keynote speaker at the United Nations, where she told world leaders to “Warrior Up” for water and for the planet.
Rishab, a high school student from the Pacific Northwest, developed a software tool that was shown to help doctors treat pancreatic cancer more accurately and effectively. Rishab’s algorithm won the $25,000 top prize at the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge in October 2018, and he’s now trying to find hospital and physician partners who could help him run a clinical trial to continue testing.
Melati and Isabel Wijsen
Melati and Isabel started “Bye Bye Plastic Bags” at the ages of 10 and 12, after seeing their Indonesian island of Bali plagued by plastic products in the ocean. The sisters wanted to make a difference, and Bye Bye Plastic Bags was founded in 2013. It has grown into a well known international movement, and the sisters helped organize Bali’s largest clean-up with 20,000 people cleaning up more than 65 tonnes of waste.