In recent years, teenagers have become involved in a variety of movements, advocating for many different issues. Survivors of the massacre that killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, created the #NeverAgain movement, sparking thousands of students to walk out of school in protest of loose gun regulations. With the same passion and urgency to make a difference in seemingly helpless times, environmental activist Greta Thunberg grew her one-person school strike outside the Swedish parliament into a global climate movement demanding action against climate change. Time after time, members of Gen Z take the first step toward solutions to prominent problems. These youth-led social change movements are actively changing countless communities and the world as a whole.
Every Child Now
Photo Credit: Every Child Now
Every Child Now is a youth-run organization providing children globally with basic needs. The organization equips young people with the tools and resources they need to further their mission of protecting children's rights. In 2012, Vishal and Ishan Vijay witnessed extreme poverty in India. Vishal and Ishan spent some time with underprivileged kids, motivating them to start a non-profit in an effort to support and help the kids they had just met.
Now, many years later, Every Child Now has raised $100,000 and has distributed over 35,000 units of basic supplies for children. There are several ways for teens to get involved in Every Child Now, whether by donating or participating in the organization's campaigns.
Photo Credit: The Santa Barbara Independent
Olivia Seltzer started The Cramm after the 2016 presidential election when she became inspired to make teens more knowledgeable about ongoing events and the news. Every morning at 5:00 am, Olivia wakes up to write The Cramm, which gives teens a "cheatsheet to the world." Delivered to teens' email every morning, The Cramm briefly outlines the day's biggest headlines. All teens can sign up to receive updates on the latest happenings from The Cramm.
Photo Credit: Zero Hour
Zero Hour is a youth-led initiative "creating entry points, training, and resources for new young activists and organizers (and adults who support our vision) wanting to take concrete action around climate change." Zero Hour strives to secure a clean, safe, and healthy environment for future generations. All donations go towards advancing this important message of providing teens with the necessary resources to make a difference in their community and beyond.
Championing Youth Minds
Photo Credit: Founder
Dedicated to helping young individuals care for their mental well-being, Championing Youth Minds was founded in response to the negative impact the current mental health pandemic has on youth. By providing free online resources, workshops, and more, Championing Youth Minds is successfully pushing youth to understand the importance of caring for their mental health.
In an interview with Founder, Tanya Marwaha, founder of Championing Youth Minds, explained, "I want mental wellbeing education and strategies to be integrated into every young person’s life growing up at school and at home. This is so important to ensure young people get the support they need, do not suffer alone and do not tragically lose their lives to suicide."
Photo Credit: Home Again
A few years ago, while volunteering at a local homeless shelter, John Michael Stagliano noticed that permanent housing is a luxury and something many lack access to. But, for formerly homeless individuals, housing often lacks furniture, kitchenware, and other necessary items and materials. Stagliano knew that he had to take action. He began gathering beds and silverware from family and neighbors to properly furnish the home of three men who had recently left the shelter. Soon after, he established Home Again, an organization that has now furnished the new homes of 461 men, women, and children.
Photo Credit: People
During the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, Ankitha Kumar began receiving texts from students she helped at the local tutoring center. Since online courses and remote school felt unfamiliar, students experienced difficulty keeping up with their academics. Ankitha, a high schooler in Minnesota, began offering free virtual sessions to children in need of assistance. She and her two friends launched ConneXions Tutoring. As of now, ConneXions Tutoring has worked with over 360 students across the world.
These changemakers are only a few individuals and organizations working towards a better world. The action being taken on behalf of teens is not only making a change on a local, national, and global scale, but also altering teens' perception of how they can influence the world around them. Young leaders are communicating to other young individuals that they have the ability to make a difference in their communities and that they can and should act on issues they are passionate about.