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Children are our future. The youth can change the world. They herald the dawning of an entirely new generation who will occupy powerful positions and implement massive changes in society.
Unfortunately, we keep hearing complaints about the younger generation being entitled, spoiled, disrespectful. All negative descriptions that are designed to justify our continued disrespect and discrimination against them.
It’s like that one person can change the world quote from Malala Yousafzai: “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher, can change the world.”
Ageism. It’s a thing.
It’s a sad state of affairs when adults – who are bigger, stronger, more powerful and therefore, should be a lot wiser and far more understanding – feel so threatened by children that they feel the need to exert their authority in every way.
And then we’re shocked when children rebel, when they suffer increased risks of a host of mental and emotional issues, when they disrespect us.
One could argue that they are only copying what they see the behaviour adults around them indulge in.
And worse, we show them that “might makes right” as we use the fact that we are bigger and older as reason enough to railroad them at every turn.
To counter this negativity, this Feel Good Friday will be dedicated to showing children in a positive light. They are not at all an entitled generation, merely a different one. They have their own challenges, as every generation does. And they also have their own strengths.
This post is all about five young people who have changed the world for the better. If you want to know how to make a difference in the world as a kid, they can be your examples.
So, join us as we bask in the glow of a glorious future that awaits us once we decide to give children (yes, they were all under 18 years old when they started) the chance to be their truly wonderful selves.
1. South Africa
Botlhale Boikanyo is a spoken word artist who rose to fame when she won SA’s Got Talent in 2012 at the young age of 11, where she performed Marianne Williamson’s famous poem as well as something of her own creation. At the age of thirteen, she performed her poems at the Legacy of Hope Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital campaign inauguration in New York and her request and performance were linked with International Mandela Day.
She evokes powerful emotions with her words. Check out her audition video for SA’s Got Talent 2012.
2. United States
Diagnosed with retinoblastoma at eight months and lost his left eye two months later, Jake Olson didn’t let the threat of cancer hanging over him rule his life. Instead, he continued to live his life with passion. One of these passions was football, particularly the USC Trojans. The eventual loss of his right eye when he was 12 years old did not dim this passion at all and he went on to play with his favourite team in 2016.
It just goes to show that when there’s a will, you will find a way.
Born in 2003, this 16-year old suddenly became an international sensation when she decided to go on school strike to force the Swedish parliament to start treating climate change as the emergency it is. In the video below, she addresses EU leaders and reminds them that the people who are most affected by the political (in)decision today are ones who, like her, cannot vote.
For Greta, this isn’t just a one-off stint in order to become famous. This is a fight for her future and the future of our children.
In the video below, you’ll see an unknown Japanese child trying to jump past an erected barrier before a diverse audience comprised of his classmates and a few adults – possibly parents.
He tries and fails 4 times whilst his classmates cheer him on.
By the third try, he wipes at his eyes as if he were crying – and he very well could be.
After the 4th try, some of his classmates swoop in and they include the young child in a huddle.
Amidst cheers and clapping, the young child finally sails over the barrier and nails it.
Unless their natural empathy is beaten out of them, children naturally feel for others. They don’t like it when someone cries or is hurt and they try to alleviate the pain and help make things better.
At the age of 17, Gemma Steele went to Kenya to volunteer at an orphanage. That orphanage closed due to financial difficulties and Gemma went home.
But instead of forgetting about the children she met in Kenya, she instead went on to raise thousands of pounds so that they could open another orphanage. In January 2012, The St. Jerome’s Center opened its doors.
However, this was to be short-lived as they fell victim to robbery and ransacking perpetrated by a group of men with machetes.
Forced to flee, they had to look for other options.
Gemma then purchased an acre of land and partnered with Orkidstudio, a charity that creates “high quality, affordable and healthy buildings, through an exceptional end-to-end design and construction process, which use local materials and promote opportunities for women.”
The orphanage has now all but doubled in size and continues to “improve the lives and give opportunity to disadvantaged Kenyan children.”
As you can see, if given the chance, children are capable of great things.
Do you know another inspiring child (anyone under 18 years old) who could be on this list? Let us know in the comment section below!