Young People Taking Over The World In 2021
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Today (and every day really) we’re celebrating young people - just like you! - who are putting their stamp on the world, and making change for the better. From period poverty to climate change, setting up businesses to smashing goals, here are some of the inspirational young people taking over the world in 2021...
Bella has been hailed as ‘the British answer to Greta’ by Vogue Magazine. She’s a 17 year old environmental activist, youth ambassador for the Born Free Foundation, RSPCA, Save the Asian Elephants and the Ivory Alliance, and just wants everyone to help protect the natural world.
Bella first became an ambassador at the age of 11. After hearing about palm oil and the destruction it has on forests and the animals within them, she started campaigning and fundraising. She decided to start a Twitter account to help with the campaigning, which started small, but now has over 140,000 followers!
In 2018, when Bella was just 15 years old, she made a speech at the Zero Hour March - a climate protest organised by the Zero Hour youth movement to advocate for their own rights to a safe and livable future. Bella spoke passionately about her fears of climate change and the impact it will have on the world and her generation, saying, “I can’t enforce people to take action, but I can tell them that if in 30 years time we haven’t acted on this issue, we will look back to today and — as we stand on a ruined and uninhabitable planet — we will wish that we took action before it was too late.”
And, last year, Bella’s first book The Children of the Anthropocene got picked up by Penguin Life. The books ‘will chronicle the lives of young people on the frontlines of the environmental crisis around the world, telling the stories of an endangered species often overlooked: the children of the Anthropocene. From consumerism to melting glaciers, Bella meets with the young people feeling the impact for our warming planet and how many of them are fighting to preserve it.” The book will be released in June 2022.
Charlie is a disability rights activist and youth worker. In 2012, when Charlie was 15 years old, he was hit by a car as he crossed the road and suffered a severe brain injury. He spent 11 days in an induced coma, and then a further four months in a nuerology ward, and six months in a rehabilitation programme. He finally returned home in February 2013.
Just before his accident, Charlie had finished a four-year contract at Birmingham City Football Club’s Academy and was trialling for Milton Keynes Dons. But his accident left him with an educational memory of a seven year old, and he had to go back to school where he got one-to-one support to learn how to walk, talk and eat again.
But that didn’t deter him!
Charlie started playing football again in 2013, this time for the West Midlands Centre of Excellence Cerebral Palsy team. And then in 2105, he was selected for the Northern Ireland CP team too!
He’s spent the last few years travelling the world to play football and inspiring others through his youth work and motivational speaking. He now tours football clubs, schools, universities and corporate events where he encourages everyone that giving up never has to be an option, no matter what.
And, in 2018, Charlie was awarded an MBE by Prince William for his services to young people in Solihull.
Amika is an activist from London, who began campaigning when she was 17 years old. After learning that girls around the country were using newspapers, toilet roll and socks to cope with their periods, and even missing school every month, Amika started #FreePeriods, a campaign to end period poverty in the UK. Amika started a petition calling on the government to give free menstrual products to children from low-income families. The petition quickly gained thousands upon thousands of signatures, but Amika didn’t think that was enough. So, she also organised a 2,000 people strong peaceful protest outside Downing Street, demanding that then Prime Minister, Teresa May “provide free menstruation products for all girls already on free school meals”.
Maintaining momentum for the campaign wasn’t always easy. Speaking to Harpers Bazaar, Amika said; “Sometimes it felt like shouting into a void. I received so much interest and engagement from young activists who spread the word, but it made the purposeful ignorance of the older generation of politicians who were overwhelmingly male, so didn’t care about periods, even more obvious. It wasn’t a priority for them.”
Finally, in 2019, it was announced that the UK government pledged to provide free menstrual products to all secondary schools and colleges across England.
This year, Amika has released her first book - Make It Happen - her guide to being an effective activist. She writes about how you can contribute to a better world in small practical steps, from choosing your cause to making allies. It’s all about how you can affect change at a time when it’s needed most!
When Ben was just 11 years old, he was named ‘the smartest kid on the planet’ by The Times in their Teen Power List. When a friend of the family asked Ben to build their company website, he jumped on the internet and watched all the YouTube tutorials he could to learn how to do that. And he learnt pretty quickly, and pretty well! He was soon able to start designing websites for lots of different clients and created Tower Design - his first business!
He quickly gained recognition and was creating campaigns for the likes of Pot Noodle, NHS Give Blood and Amazon Echo. And, just before finishing his GCSE’s, Towers Design became one of the largest marketing agencies in Kent following a multi-million-pound merger with Zest. Richard Branson even described him as “one of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs.”
Since starting his business, Ben has become a consultant, providing companies with fresh perspectives and a youth angle to their business and marketing strategies. In 2018, he announced his aim to change the health outcomes of his generation.
And this was especially seen in 2020, in the midst of the global pandemic, Ben and his business partner Mike soon began to realise that “social distancing, office closures and working from home during the Covid pandemic have brought into focus a longer term challenge for companies. We are the most connected generation yet we are still disconnected from each other. We go to work not feeling a part of something, spending our day working with our colleagues whom we lack deeper connection with.” So, they put their heads together and launched Tahora - a workplace wellbeing app with a mission to create workplaces where employees belong and feel engaged. The mobile platform is designed to bring together the workplace social experience with wellbeing support, whilst allowing employers to make data-driven decisions around culture and wellbeing strategy.
AMY AND ELLA MEEK
Amy and Ella are sisters, and planet activists. In 2016, they learnt about the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development - goals in which 193 world leaders have pledged to try and achieve by 2030, such as ending poverty, fighting inequality and tackling climate change - in particular the recurring issue of plastic pollution. It made them want to make a difference and help reduce the amount of single use plastic in the world. So, they created Kids Against Plastic, a campaign with a goal of collecting 100,000 pieces of single-use plastic — one for every sea mammal killed by plastic waste each year.
Kids Against Plastic have currently picked up over 80,000 pieces of single-use plastic from beaches, fields, pavements, parks and schools, and the duo regularly get invited to speak at international conferences and schools talking about plastic pollution, the virtues of litter picking and how to be ‘plastic clever’. They’ve even given a TEDx talk to spread their message as far as possible!
What started as a simple, passionate project has since become an award-winning charity, and the sisters — who are both British #IWill ambassadors for youth social action — are now campaigning to get single-use plastic bottles off the shelves of every UK supermarket.
Who are the young people you look up to? Who’s getting you inspired in 2021? Let us know over at @NCS!