Five Girls in STEM creating opportunities for women in ICT

Five Girls in STEM creating opportunities for women in ICT

April 26, 2018 marks International Girls in ICT Day—a day dedicated to empowering girls and young women around the world to explore careers in the growing field of ICT (Information and communication technology).

Reaching over 300,000 girls in 160+ countries so far, International Girls in ICT Day encourages technology companies to realize the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector and YOUth can join the global effort!
See how these five young ChangeLeaders® are creating learning opportunities in STEM and ICT for their peers in Canada, Jordan, Zambia and Tanzania.

Jasveen Brar

Science fair programming in Canada
In highschool, Jasveen conducted a science fair project looking at the levels of parasites in her local community, how effectively the wastewater treatment plant removed them and where they ended up afterwards. This research led her to participate at the Canada Wide Science Fair where she received a gold medal for her work
During this experience, Jasveen noticed that enrolment was dropping at the regional science fair, particularly for young women, which really troubled her because she knows that there are so many opportunities for youth in this field.

Wanting to show youth that a science fair project goes beyond a basic baking soda and vinegar volcano, Jasveen Brar founded Operation Lab Coats and Beakers, a program designed to assist youth through each step of the science fair…

The following year, participation at the regional fair was at its all-time high.

While she studies at university, Jasveen continues to volunteer her time towards science fair efforts and has hosted a webinar series with Youth Science Canada to connect youth with STEM and encourage them to follow their dreams regardless of their age. She has also participated in two Students On Ice expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic studying the impacts of climate change with scientists and polar experts, with the research being presented at the international SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) summit, Merit360, and UN headquarters.

Did you know that only 26% of workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (#STEM) are female?

Rasha Al-Khateen and Maram Hussein

Tech development hackathon in JordanWhile participating in the TechGirls US program, Rasha and Maram heard about the NASA Space Apps Challenge—a technology development hackathon that focuses on finding real solutions to earth and space challenges, intensively prototyping over the course of three days and implementing the most promising prototypes—and were keen to bring this event to Jordan.

Rasha and Maram applied to be local leads and successfully applied for a small grants program. They both agree that while organizing an event like this one took a lot of time and energy, it was a real an honour and was worth the effort: Rasha and Maram have met many entrepreneurs and built lasting relationships. The girls also got to help their community showcase its amazing talent and the participants are on track to turning their idea into a reality.

Regina Mtonga-Mantina

ICT community network in Zambia
From a young age when she used her birthday money to plant a tree, Kehkashan passion for the environment has led her to speak at over 45 international and United Nations summits, and serve on various UN councils and committees. She also has founded Green Hope, which seeks to provide a networking platform for youth to engage in sustainable development. By organizing environmental workshops and ground-level projects on mitigating climate change, stopping land degradation, biodiversity conservation and waste reduction, Green Hope has engaged over 1,000 youth members around the world.

The biggest lesson I've learned so far is that you only fail at something if you don't attempt it. #ChangeLeader Regina Mtonga-Mantina #ChangeGen

Vick John Vigero

ICT training in Tanzania
As a teenager, Vick felt lost and confused, looking for the right path: She never finished her secondary school education and felt like she would never find success. Vick began volunteering as a trainer with Restless Development and their International Citizen Service program, an employment and livelihood project that changed her whole life.
As time went by, Vick developed a passion for creating positive change in her community. She also joined Mbeya Living Lab, a local initiative that delivers ICT training to youth. As a girl, she always felt others judged her choice to volunteer, but she knew she was doing the right thing. Vick attended a variety of seminars and workshops to broaden her knowledge and acquire more skills. Working on a ICT project with secondary school students, Vick has helped them use wide range of technologies and learn more about social media to improve and increase their skills.

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

Ten Ways Our ChangeLeaders® are Protecting Our Earth

Ten Ways Our ChangeLeaders® are Protecting Our Earth

Although Earth Month is coming to a close, our efforts for climate action and improved sustainability continue on.

Are you looking to get involved, but don’t know where to start? Many of our young ChangeLeaders®, share your vision for a greener future. Here are 10 ways they are advocating for mother earth, working to reduce the impact of climate change and creating a better planet for all of us.

1. Replanting Mangroves 

Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne, Sri LankaFollowing the 2004 tsunami, Anoka founded her own eco-social enterprise, Growin’ Money, to ensure the availability of environmental protection and alternative income opportunities for vulnerable and underprivileged communities. As a first responder, she saw the devastation that occurred without the Mangroves–shrubs and small trees that grow along coasts–a sensitive ecosystem which serves as a natural defence and is home to many endangered flora and fauna. Together with over 20,000 volunteers, Anoka has replanted over 40,000 Mangroves and Growin’ Money’s eco-tourism initiative has supported 5,000 villagers in five countries.

2. Disaster Relief 

Eric Li, United StatesEric founded his own non-profit, We Care Act, after his family’s efforts to raise donations for the 2008 earthquake in China. We Care Act focuses on disaster relief projects, service learning opportunities, education and electronics recycling: They’ve delivered refurbished computers to students in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Nepal, and South Sudan; and have worked with the victims of 14 natural disasters. We Care Act has brought together over 35,000 people from around the world, collected 38,000 items and raised over $260,000 in funds and in-kind donations.

After disaster in Japan, We Care Act put out a call for handwritten letters to send to the students affected: They received +5,000, along with 1,600 paper cranes from all over the world.

3. Elephant Conservation

Josh Kauderer, United States
While travelling in Kenya, Josh was surprised to find out that elephants were being poached due to the ever-increasing demand for ivory. Wanting to do something, Josh and his brother founded Elephant Highway, building awareness speaking at schools and community events, and raising funds by selling t-shirts and crafts made by African artists on their website and at street fairs. They hope that by promoting the work of these artists, they can give the villagers an economic incentive to not engage in poaching and advocate for wildlife conservation.

It takes time and a lot of effort to make a difference. Having a positive mindset will make your goals more attainable. -Josh Kauderer #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen

4. Environmental Awareness Workshop

Kehkashan Basu, India
From a young age when she used her birthday money to plant a tree, Kehkashan passion for the environment has led her to speak at over 45 international and United Nations summits, and serve on various UN councils and committees. She also has founded Green Hope, which seeks to provide a networking platform for youth to engage in sustainable development. By organizing environmental workshops and ground-level projects on mitigating climate change, stopping land degradation, biodiversity conservation and waste reduction, Green Hope has engaged over 1,000 youth members around the world.

5. Wildlife Protection

Luca Berardi, Tanzania
When Luca lived in Kenya, he used his passion for animals to start Young Animal Rescue Heroes (YARH), which works to help youth build awareness for environmental and wildlife conservation, and connect with nature. YAHR’s key project involves offering school workshops, where Luca speaks to and works with youth from poor areas of Nairobi to showcase their creative arts talents while also demonstrating their passion for conservation.

6. Reducing Food Waste

Maya Terro, Lebanon

Being perplexed by the paradox of so many people going hungry when there’s so much food being wasted, Maya decided to become a food activist. She co-founded FoodBlessed, a community-based, self-funded non-profit organization that fights food poverty in Lebanon by providing free, daily wholesome meals for the homeless and low-income, all while tackling and spreading awareness about food waste. By diverting food destined for waste, FoodBlessed saves hundreds of tons of food while feeding many people in need, making it a win-win model.

Success boils down to this: Doing what you love, with what you have, while inspiring others with what you do! -Maya Terro #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen

7. GMO Advocacy

Rachel Parent, Canada
When Rachel learned that some chemical companies rebranded as “agribusinesses” and developed genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—making the seeds resistant to chemicals—she wanted to inform others how this “modern agriculture” was contaminating food, water, the soil and people’s health. Founding Kids Right To Know, Rachel began organizing marches, meeting with government officials and top scientists, appearing on TV and speaking in schools about GMO labelling and food safety. Rachel’s goal is to enforce mandatory GMO labelling so Canadians have the freedom to choose what they eat.

8. Oil Spill Research

Nivatha Balendra, Canada
After the Lac-Mégantic oil spill in 2013, Nivatha felt inspired to find a sustainable solution so the environment would be less affected in the recovery process. Nivatha’s goal was to find oil-degrading bacteria with the ability to produce biosurfactants—naturally occurring lipids capable of dispersing oil just like soap, except they’re entirely natural and biodegradable. Following many months of lab research, she was surprised to find biosurfactant-producing bacteria among her samples, which has granted her unique opportunities to learn from mentors and meet inspiring people around the world.

Always be relentless in pursuing your dreams, regardless of the obstacles that may bring you down along the way. –Nivatha Balendra #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen

9. Sustainability Campaigns 

Simran Vedvyas, India
As the founder of SynergY youth group, which works to promote sustainability, Simran puts her childhood passions for the recycling and helping others into action, engaging students across the UAE and India on the environment, education and health care. To date, Simran has led over 75 successful youth engagement campaigns, including Green Space New Life, which saw 3,000 trees planted at landfill sites across the UAE.

Our world is literally at the edge of a cliff, ready to roll down by the adverse effects of human greed. We have 2 choices: Either we let it roll down or we make a collective effort to pull it back and make it peaceful. -Simran Vedvyas #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen​

10. Green Energy

Zainab Bibi, Pakistan
After realizing the energy and environmental problems, Zainab created the Pakistan Society for Green Energy to facilitate research on green energy and create awareness about environmental issues. Spanning across green energy, nanotechnology, biochemistry and molecular biology, Zainab’s research projects include producing bio-ethanol from waste tissue papers to reduce the dependence on petroleum and the its disposal in landfills, and producing bio-diesel from Camelina Sativa—an American plant species that grows quickly and in marginal soils, and has a greater resistance to drought and low temperatures—to help combat extreme poverty.

Women in science are still marginalized and face many cultural and social challenges. Try to use your experiences to be a role model for other women and girls who have ambitions in science and technology. -Zainab Bibi #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen​

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

white and brown concrete building nearby polluted water

Three Inventive Efforts to End Plastic Pollution

Three Inventive Efforts to End Plastic Pollution

Happy Earth Day 2018!

This year’s theme, End Plastic Pollution, is focused on change attitudes and actions when it comes to plastics to reduce or remove the negative impact it’s having on our marine wildlife, our bodies and our planet. Be inspired by these three stories of our young ChangeLeaders® from Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and Mexico working to reduce the use of plastics and its associated environmental pollution. Gabriel and Zachary Su:
Turning plastic bottles in toysWhile they were being homeschooled in Taiwan, Gabriel and Zachary spent their days learning about the world around them and became very concerned about the environment, and in particular, the overuse of plastic bottles. They decided to take used plastic bottles and turn them into toys: Gabriel made tanks, cannons and satellites from the discarded bottles, and his brother Zachary made honey bees and ants from recycled plastic spoons and forks.
To inspire and encourage more kids of any age to be creative and make their own toys instead of buying new ones, they also created step-by-step video tutorials. “This is a great way to learn problem-solving while making your favourite toys…We can make our world a better place and also have fun creating,” Gabriel acknowledges.

We don’t have to wait for scientists to save our Earth. We children can do something about it. –Gabriel Su #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen

Master Abdul Muqeet:
Switching from plastic to newspaper bagsAs a strong advocate of the harmful effects of plastic bags, Master Abdul came up with a unique solution to solve this problem in the United Arab Emirates (UAE): newspaper. He created and donated 7,000 paper bags using recycled newspapers. Based on his efforts, he became known as the “Paper Bag Boy.”
Master Abdul also led 180 workshops to teach others how to create their own paper bags: He admits that people only start caring when they realize the ecological and health impacts on their day-to-day activities so public awareness and education is essential to the success of any waste management program. “The decomposition of plastic takes a very long time—hundreds of years—and has a major effect on our environment, ecosystem and health.” Now a committed environmentalist, he’s proud that many schools, companies and governmental bodies have since adopted this idea and have replaced plastic bags.

Plant more trees, use less water, do more recycling and do not use plastic bags. –Master Abdul Muqeet #ChangeLeader #ChangeGen

Scott Munguia:
Transforming avocado seeds into bioplasticsWhile completing his degree in chemical engineering, Scott learned about bioplastics and wondered if he could use trash to make plastic in order to be more competitively priced with conventional petroleum-based plastics. A high school project he worked on about the chemical composition of avocados stuck out in his mind as a possible solution.
Turns out, he could! Scott founded his own company, BioFase, which uses the avocado seed to produce biodegradable resins as a substitute for conventional plastics polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. Since it is made from an agro-industrial waste—each month more than 25,000 tons of avocado seeds are thrown away in Mexico—these bioplastics can compete directly with petroleum-based plastics. Better yet, not a single avocado will be wasted.

BioFase is the largest bioplastics production company in Mexico, though they have taken it a step further and now lead the production of biodegradable plastic in Latin America, exporting their products to more than 11 countries.

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

Three Stories of Youth Making a Difference through Creativity

Three Stories of Youth Making a Difference through Creativity

Sometimes, all it takes is an idea to start something big.

Creativity is in us all, particularly at a young age. YOUth have the talent and imaginations to think beyond what is known to be possible, and find unique solutions and ideas to solve the challenges we face.

Don’t believe us? These three stories of ChangeLeaders® from The Power of YOUth show us how it’s done!Kathrine and Isabelle Adams:
Make origami ornaments for water wellsBorn in the United States, as young girls Katherine and Isabelle learned there were many girls their age in developing countries not in school because they were collecting water. Motivated to take action, these sisters decided to make origami Christmas ornaments and give the donations raised to water well projects: With that, Paper for Water was born.
In the first five years, the Adams sisters raised over $825,000 and helped fund over 100 water projects in Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, Mexico, Ethiopia, Uganda, Peru, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, India, and a Navajo Reservation in Smith Lake, New Mexico. Because sanitation and hygiene are taught with Paper for Water’s well insertions, the incidence of Ebola in communities of countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone has been next to zero.

In the first five years, the Adams sisters raised over $825,000 and helped fund over 100 water projects in various countries including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and India. #ChangeLeader

Alanna Wall:
Paints nails for hospital patients and those with special needsAt the age of 10, Alanna founded Polished Girlz, to bring mini manicures to both girls in the hospital and those with special needs. She considers herself to be very creative and enjoys helping others so mixing these two passions seemed like a natural fit. Since it was difficult to find places that would allow a young girl to volunteer, Alanna’s project originally started with just her and her mom painting nails. Through friends, family and community networks, Polished Girlz has grown into a worldwide organization.

In the last five years, Polished Girlz has reached over 16,000 girls and now has over 900 volunteers, from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico. “I know it just seems like we are polishing nails, but it’s more than that. Some of our clients live in the hospital or are there frequently. Polished Girlz gives them a chance to take the minds off of whatever they are going through and interact with kids their own age.”

Polished Girlz gives them a chance to take the minds off of whatever they are going through and interact with kids their own age. -Alanna Wall, #ChangeLeader

Alisha Fredriksson:
Teaches jewellery design to village women in IndiaBorn in Hungary to a Swedish father and Chinese mother, Alisha grew up appreciating diverse cultures. At age six, she began tinkering with beading and business, parading a basket of jewellery around her local neighbourhood. As her skills and designs quickly progressed, Alana created an online boutique, Brite Jewelry, to sell her sparkly creations.

Following an Antarctic adventure in high school, Alisha chose to attend Mahindra United World College of India, a two-year residential college with over 200 students from 60 countries. In an attempt to branch out beyond her international school bubble and learn more from those around her, Alisha connected with a local non-profit, Akshara, and began sharing her love for jewellery making with women in the nearby villages.

Word quickly spread and soon enough, over 50 women from 11 villages had joined the artisan training program, Seema Circle, as a means to develop new skills, connect with a community, and generate income and independence. #ChangeLeader

Seema Circle developed into a social enterprise and later into an inaugural project of the UWC Project-Based Diploma, an alternative high school program for motivated students.

See a challenge in your community but not sure where to start? Thinking of exploring an idea?

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

Five Young Women Fighting the Gender Gap

Five Young Women Fighting the Gender Gap

Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a day to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history, and the next generation of leaders who are history in the making.

Meet five of our young 2017 ChangeLeaders®  working to eliminate the gender gap and create inclusive societies with equal opportunity for girls, youth and women around the world. Ellen Chilemba: Entrepreneurship WarriorGrowing up in Malawi, Ellen found it particularly upsetting to see young women her age, or even or much younger, forced out of school because of poverty.

Together with four other young women and armed with just $1,000, she launched Tiwale, a series of business education training workshops and a micro-loan program. When market conditions changed and some women defaulted on their loans, they knew they needed a new solution and opted to hire a local artist to teach tie-dying. In the past year, Tiwale women have become expert fabric tie-dyers, producing over 140 fabrics, 100 of which have been sold via Tiwale’s online store and at pop-up events. The sales have enabled Tiwale to give the women living stipends, cover their operation costs and buy land to build a women’s centre. Tiwale is now a registered community-based organization, supporting 150 women, including 40 who started their own small business, 66 learned tie-dyeing, and six are back in school through their grants.

I firmly believe that all women have the potential to lift themselves out of poverty, but that many are not given the opportunity.
–Ellen Chilemba #ChangeLeader

Mary Grace Henry:
Education CrusaderEven from an early age attending an all-girls school in the United States, Mary realized girls around the world didn’t have the same opportunities to attend school as boys. At age 12, she decided she wanted to make a difference for one girl, but she didn’t have any money and had no way to get anywhere. In fact, Samantha overcame both her speech impediment and this childhood adversity to become a public speaker, national role model for young girls across the country, and Miss Teen Canada! So Mary taught herself how to sew and began making hair accessories. After creating 50 headbands, she brought them to her school bookstore and within two days, they sold out. Fast-forward six and a half years: through the help of non-profit and retail partners, mentors, donations, grants and supporters, Reverse The Course currently sponsors 101 girls and has paid for 203 years of tuition so that girls can have dreams of their own too.

Mallah Tabot:
Sexual and Reproductive Health PioneerAs a feminist, journalist by training, blogger and women’s rights activist from Cameroon who strongly believes that access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a basic human right, Mallah has dedicated the past four years to founding United Vision, an organization working to fulfil the SRH needs of adolescents and young people. United Vision has developed the first-ever mobile app of its kind in Cameroon, called Ndolo360, that provides anonymous judgement-free education, information and services from peer educators and experts on SRH/HIV for young people. Available in two languages, Ndolo360 also provides young people with access to a database of nearby service providers and clinics who offer youth-friendly SRH services. United Vision is also leading a school-based peer-to-peer sexuality education program, which enables young people to communicate with their own peers on health issues, as they relate to life skills, communication and their own sexual health. “The sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people should never depend on how comfortable our governments are about it.” Safaath Ahmed Zahir: Leadership ChampionAfter nearly nine years living abroad, Safaath returned to the Maldives to begin her job search, only to be questioned in most of her job interviews about if and when she was going to get married: “This manifestation of gender inequality that exists in the many spheres of our economy drove a passion in me to work as the Secretary General of Women on Boards (WOB),” a non-governmental organization (NGO) that advocates towards having more women in top hierarchy positions at all levels of the country.
WOB is the first NGO in the Maldives to actively advocate for women in leadership and aims to inspire and empower the next generation women of Maldives by unleashing their economic power. Safaath intends to take her ambition a bit further by undertaking political leadership, believing that a better brighter Maldives will be built upon the backbone of equality and where development is seemingly endless.

“I can honestly say that WOB has allowed me to find myself and motivated me to achieve the extraordinary and the impossible.”

-Safaath Ahmed Zahir

Swettie Anang: STEM TrailblazerAfter attending an Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) camp for girls in Ghana, Sweetie wanted to inspire other young girls to pursue careers in science and technology, though realized that not everyone has the same privileges: “I attended in an era where people believed that only males could succeed.” While attending university, Sweetie organized JavaScript and Python coding meet-ups for other students together with and Code Avengers. She also served as a mentor at a “Let Girls Learn” hackathon, the first program funded under Michelle Obama’s initiative to encourage Ghanaian female high school students to pursue careers in the STEM fields.

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

This #ChangeLeader Wants YOUth to Take the Lead and Make Change

This #ChangeLeader Wants Youth to Take the Lead and Make Change

Meet Swarochish (Manu) Goswami from New York Via Canada .

Today, Millennials make up over 50% of the workforce. Despite the rapid growth of this professional population, Canadian businesses struggle to find and retain skilled young talent with the average tenure for Millennials to dwindling down to 16 months. The struggle is mutual with young Canadians facing increased unemployment: as of July 2016, the youth unemployment rate in Canada sits at 13.2%, a rate that is almost double the national average. A poll from CIBC states that finding a job that pays well after graduation is a top concern for post-secondary students in Canada and 37 per cent don’t know if they’ll be able to manage their finances after they finish school. As the future outlook for young professionals becomes more and more unclear, a growing number of youth are turning to entrepreneurship as an answer to their mounting uncertainty.

“Youth are the leaders of tomorrow, but they don’t need to wait until tomorrow to lead.”
–Swarochish Goswami

According to one study, 54% of Millennials either want to start a business of their own or have already started one. Additionally, another study states that 90% of Millennials think that being an entrepreneur means having a certain mindset rather than starting a company. Combining this growing interest in entrepreneurship with a focus on the mental aspects of entrepreneurship, we have seen a rise in social entrepreneurship in the last few years.

Born in Singapore, Swarochish (Manu) Goswami showed an interest in entrepreneurship from a young age. Beginning at 7, Manu began his entrepreneurial journey with humble roots, ripping out his neighbour’s flowers, wrapping them in bows, and selling them back to them.

Though his flower reselling business came to a rather quick end, his entrepreneurship career was just blossoming. At the age of 10, he founded his own hoverboard business – employing his father as Chief Project Engineer – and sold exactly one hoverboard, with proceeds going to a local charity.

Life wasn’t always easy for Manu, though. Similar to the experiences of our #ChangeLeader Samantha Sewel, Manu grew up with speech impediment, making him starkly aware of the stigma faced by individuals suffering from mental, verbal, and physical disabilities. This awareness inspired Manu as a social entrepreneur. Rather than create any business, Manu sought to channel his business acumen to build social ventures with a foundational principle of creating impact to benefit others. As a direct result of this commitment, Manu, in collaboration with Black & Veatch, established the Next Foundry, a $25,000 financing factory that aims to finance the next generation of high impact founders. As of 2016, the Next Foundry had financed 76 early-stage technology and social impact ventures.

Manu is a self-described serial entrepreneur and investor that finances early stage startups, as well as a TEDx speaker and co-founder of seven ventures – World Thinks, World Youth Fund, Millennial Council, The Next Foundry, RafikiMedia, GenSys, and FoodShare. In addition to all of these ventures, Manu is also one of the curators of the world’s first youth social capital fund. In 2015, Manu was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 and as one of Canada’s top young entrepreneurs.

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

This ChangeLeader will Teach You the Importance of Resilience and Optimism

This #ChangeLeader will teach you the importance of resilience and optimism

Meet Daniel Bielak Lopez from Canada.

Canadian #ChangeLeader Daniel Bielak’s childhood wasn’t exactly like everyone else’s. For starters, he spent 150 days per year in the hospital during the first ten years of his life. Born with a rare case of asthma, Daniel couldn’t rely on the help of puffers or breathing machines. In fact, due to his condition, those medical aids actually made him more sick, and the doctors couldn’t figure out why. As it turns out, he was allergic to them but they didn’t discover this allergy until he was ten-years-old. After flying out to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota with his mother, a doctor finally took Daniel off of his medication and advised him instead to try sleeping on an incline. After that seemingly simple advice, Daniel says he had the best sleep of his life and he began to regain his life back.

Overcoming childhood obstacles is something that we all share. Whether it’s beating a health scare, standing up to bullying, or overcoming economic challenges, we all experience difficult times growing up. In effect, our collective sense of vulnerability is what makes us human. The important thing to remember during these times, though, is that we are not alone in our struggles and these challenges are not meant to define us.

“There is no not.”
–Daniel Bielak

Daniel’s story is a great example of this. Today, Daniel’s asthma is in remission and, following suit, his life has become quite active. He’s competed in cross-country races, played volleyball, and played rugby -activities most doctors would have never thought possible with the prior severity of his asthma. Seeing the importance of resilience, optimism, and determination played in his own life, Daniel later decided to turn his struggles into opportunity and become a public speaker. Starting small, Daniel shared his story on a local news network and gave presentations to classmates in elementary school. His message was always consistent: never give up on life.

Always wanting to try new things and continue to grow, Daniel combined his message of hope with his love of podcasts. Rather than falling into the trap of producing another business podcast, however, he decided to create a podcast that would target his peers and fill in the gaps left empty by the education system. So, he created The Youth Empowerment Podcast with the mission to empower and uplift youth to achieve their potential. Drawing on his own experiences, Daniel’s podcasts underscore the importance of mental and physical health, communication, financial literacy, and life knowledge to his peers.
Creative Headshot
Today, Daniel continues to expand his impact through the Youth Empowerment Podcast, touching the lives of strangers and peers alike, in an effort to encourage others to overcome their challenges. Life is meant to be lived and although challenges may be thrown our way, we should not let this discourage us from becoming our best selves, Daniel’s personal story reminds us of this. As Daniel says himself, “No matter what life throws at you, never give up. There is no not.”

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

These Women Entrepreneurs Will Make You Rethink the Way You See Trash

These women entrepreneurs will make you rethink the way you see trash

Meet Andrea Garcia Lopez from Mexico.

Currently, there are two main methods of getting rid of garbage: landfills and burning. While landfills pose their own threats to the environment, burning trash is actually the world’s leading cause of dioxins, one of the world’s most toxic chemicals known to science. Needless to say, the global trash crisis is one that affects every being on this planet. Why, then, is it so overlooked? And what are people doing to fix the problem?

Who knew that a simple class project could create such a major impact on an entire community? Andrea Garcia Lopez, a young student from Mexico challenged with creating a project for class, took the opportunity to get creative with her friends and created an initiative that goes way beyond the classroom.

Competing for the Hult Prize 2016 Challenge, the mission itself was relatively straightforward – together with a group of other students, they were to think of a way to double the income of one million individuals by the year 2022.

It is estimated that, by 2100, global waste rates will triple, rising to nearly 11 million tonnes per day. In one year, we throw away upwards of 1.3 billion tonnes of waste After being carefully selected by the organization, Andrea was stunned at the opportunity that had been provided to her and her group mates. The objective of the challenge was to compete against the top universities in the world and bring their ideas to light. Andrea and her team knew they were more than capable of accomplishing it.

Her team, consisting of one media manager and three architects, started fishing for knowledge in areas they didn’t have expertise in so they could develop their business model in the hopes of helping millions of people with their core idea. Together, they decided to turn their attention to something that affects everyone around the world: trash. Turning to their university, TEC de Monterrey, for help, the institution assisted the team in gathering resources, scaling their company, and implementing their project so that it would become a reality. They began by going around their local towns and asking users if they would exchange their trash for financial incentives.

In Mexico today, residents are able to use their trash for other means. For example, residents are able to turn their garbage into fuel usage to better the economy. According to Nick Michell, “Mexico City generates 12,500 metric tonnes of municipal solid waste per day and it has reduced the amount going to landfill to 5,500 tonnes, through the recycling program and by diverting 1,023 tonnes of waste into energy and converting 507 tonnes into compost.”
With fuel already established as a means to repurpose garbage, a financial incentive solution was another great way to benefit the economy and its residents. The exchange was successful in ways that Andrea’s team could not imagine. In particular, the exchange did not only result in the basis of a great idea, but also created a bond with the people of Mexico, generating close ties that would never be broken. The day they felt truly successful, however, was the moment they realized they created a company that could facilitate new opportunities for people living in crowded urban areas. After many hours of hard work, analyzing and iterating, it was time for the team to head to the Regional Finals of the Hult Prize Competition in Boston. Even though they did not end up winning the competition, the impact Andrea and her team made was more rewarding than any trophy could be. They continued to work on the project they started together, and are still going today. With the help of their friends, family, and community members, they were able to receive support for years to come.

In the end, watching this small idea grow into a fully-functioning business that positively affects people every day was the most rewarding part of the entire experience. Today, Andrea and her team have developed three ProTrash centres that are operating properly at full capacity.

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

Reflection: Why Millennials are Ideal Leaders of Change

Reflection: Why Millennials are Ideal Leaders of Change

Four years ago, I wrote my first Huffington Post article titled: Why Millennials are Ideal Leaders of Change.

While a lot has happened since I wrote this piece, both in my life as a leader and in the world, it’s special to know that the message of this article still remains just as relevant today as it was in 2013.

In fact, the essence of this article embodies the founding beliefs of The Change GenerationTM. Over the course of these last four years, I have been blessed to connect with new young leaders around the world. Each encounter has brought me closer to my mission of giving a voice to youth and creating opportunities that help our peers to thrive. We are growing up at a time of great change. We have seen a mix of both positive and negative shifts, but this period has been one that will inevitably change the future for the next generation.Today, there are over 1.8 billion young people in the world under the age of 25 years old.
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Youth hold the power to shape the future and influence the wave of change that is underway. Millennials will be the largest employee group worldwide within the next decade, and will be the largest voting group as early as next year!

Suffice to say, each of us has a voice and a choice to use the opportunities available to us to make a difference. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge the opportunities available to us are not equal and do not come without their challenges. For instance, depending on where we live, our family circumstances, and economic resources, there will be barriers and obstacles to overcome. These challenges, however, should not dictate our potential or limit the vision for our future.

While creating The Power of YOUth book, I had the opportunity to discover the personal struggles, hardships, and triumphs of young ChangeLeaders around the world. The stories share every kind of challenge a person could face, including mental health, poverty, violence and abuse, access to education, human rights, and digital inclusion. While each story and circumstance is unique, a unified theme of hope and strength weaves throughout the pages of the book, as each ChangeLeader faces their challenges head on. Not letting their present determine their future, each one of these individuals are overcoming their struggles to achieve great things for themselves and the world.
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This fire, determination, and passion to make a difference is the heart of what I hope The Change Generation will come to stand for: a community where you can connect with peers from all walks of life to come together and make a difference. Through this connection with like-minded leaders, hopefully you can find the inspiration to overcome the challenges that stand in your way. The Change Generation seeks to redefine the narrative of our generation. It is time to unite and show the world the positivity, hope, and strength that our generation holds in the world.

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More

Samantha Sewell

Meet Samantha Sewell from Canada

Overcoming a speech impediment to become Miss Teen Canada, Samantha Sewell inspires YOUth to stand up to bullies.

While a wide range of factors, such as race, sexuality, gender, and class, can determine the likelihood of experiencing bullying, the prevalence of bullying remains an issue for many teenagers today. In particular, the effects that bullying has on a teenage girl’s self-esteem is particularly alarming. According to Dove’s research into the topic of appearance and bullying, it is estimated that girls spend 12 minutes preparing for a photo before they take one they want to post. Even after posting, roughly 44% of girls have deleted a post because it didn't receive enough 'likes'.  With so much social capital caught up in appearance and beauty, bullying has led to lower self-esteem among girls.
In Canada, it is estimated that roughly 1 in 3 children are bullied each day. #bullyingawareness #speakup The emotional strain and negative experiences brought about by bullying can easily creep into our lives and lower our self-esteem. Rather than letting these negative experiences define who she is – or better yet, who she is capable of being – Canadian ChangeLeaderTM Samantha Sewell is taking a stand against bullying. Samantha is no stranger to being bullied. At a young age, Samantha was diagnosed with a severe speech impediment. As a result, speech language pathologists told Samantha that she may never speak like everyone else, and that people may struggle to understand her, for the rest of her life. To learn the alphabet, Samantha relied on sight rather sound; instead of sounding words out, she had to spell them out.

Due to Samantha’s speech impediment, people thought that she could not hear or understand them when they spoke. Her peers used to make a game out of ignoring her, and she would often arrive at school to see mean-spirited notes about her written in the bathroom. She would often eat lunch alone, waiting for the bell to ring, and would be constantly called names.

Having to work doubly hard to succeed in school... Samantha’s transition to high school was anything less than comfortable. She would often find obscene words graffitied on her locker, and would overhear her peers hurling ableist insults at her as she walked down the halls. Like any teenager struggling to find their identity, Samantha eventually succumbed to the insults and began to think these things of herself. Thanks to a few people, including her mother, a French teacher, and a group of grade 11 students, Samantha found the strength to stick through it and finish high school. In fact, Samantha overcame both her speech impediment and this childhood adversity to become a public speaker, national role model for young girls across the country, and Miss Teen Canada!

Be someone's hero, not a bystander.

-Samantha SewellBy being true to who she is and sharing her voice, Samantha is standing up to bullying and teaching the next generation of young girls to embrace their own identity.

As a result of her experiences growing up, Samantha has become a passionate advocate for the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. Additionally, Samantha has used her experiences to create an anti-bullying and inclusion for all platform. Through her workshop, “Be Someone’s Hero, Not A Bystander”, Samantha teaches students and educators about the realities of bullying and what to do if they encounter these situations.

Samantha will always have a speech impediment, but she isn’t letting that slow her down. Through her youth empowerment work, she is proving just how resilient the human spirit is, and is teaching everyone from children to parents to teachers just how important anti-bullying practices and values are.

About the Author

Kelly Lovell is the founder and CEO of ChangeGen. She is globally recognized for her expertise, particularly on engaging Millennials and Generation Z More