Jaylene Arnold - Public Speaker and Anti-Bullying Educator ActivistJaylene Arnold’s story is an interesting one but nonetheless, easily relatable. The future founder of the Jaylens Challenge Foundation was bullied at the early age of 8 for having Tourette’s Syndrome. Instead of using his fist in retaliation, Jaylene decided to take the higher road and devised a plan. With the help of a few adults, he created a website to educate the public about his disorders and the prevalence of bullying in schools and workplaces across the globe. Jaylene’s efforts made him the voice for millions of other children who have been bullied for being different. Creating the slogan “Bullying No Way!” began a movement and Jaylene turned that movement into the Jaylens Challenge Foundation.
The foundation’s program has been taught to over 100,000 children on how to recognize bullying and how to appreciate the differences in children. The anti-bullying activist and his supporters carry the “Bullying No Way!” message around the country where Jaylene speaks at schools using presentations that are designed to inform, educate and inspire. His story has been featured on the Ellen show, CNN, and Katie Couric.
Malala Yousafzai - Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel PrizeThis young woman’s story is a real inspiration for overcoming the major hurdles that life gives. In 2009 and at the age of 11, Malala Yousafzai began blogging for the BBC about living under the Taliban's threats to deny her an education. Yousafzai demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education despite the fact that her life was in constant danger. Unfortunately for the Pakistani activist, the terrorist organization kept true to their word and she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 but survived.
The shooting resulted in a massive outpouring of support for the advocate, which continued during her recovery. Nine months after recovering from her injury, Yousafzai gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday in 2013. She spoke on the importance of education, women’s rights, and urging world leaders to change their policies on the matter. She was quoted, “The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.”
Yousafzai would go on to be acknowledged for her work and awarded the European Parliament award which is the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in October 2013. Later on, in April of 2017, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Yousafzai as a U.N. Messenger of Peace to promote girls’ education. Malala Yousafzai’s efforts to fight for education have not slowed down and she will continue to be a strong voice and inspiration for many other youths that strive to make a difference.
Greta Thunberg - Environmental Activist on Climate Change
This 16-year-old climate and environmental activist with Asperger’s has been in the news since making a huge impact at the 2019 UN Climate Conference. Born in Stockholm Sweden in 2003, Thunberg began a solo climate protest by taking weeks off from school to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament at the age of 15. Her protests were inspired by US students who staged walkouts to demand better gun controls in response to multiple school shootings. These efforts got global attention with #FridaysForFurture and started an international movement in 2018.
Thunberg led potentially the largest climate rally ever before her 2019 UN Summit trip. Millions of people around the world took part in September's Global Climate Strike, and estimates of total crowd sizes reached between an estimated 4 million to 7.6 million people. Thunberg marched in New York City, where she addressed thousands of strikers, exclaiming to the crowd, "This is an emergency. Our house is on fire."
In September 2019 she condemned world leaders in an emotional speech at the UN, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she continued on, “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago. We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with. We have to make our voices heard.”
In the same month of her visit to the 2019 UN Summit, Thunberg was one of the witnesses to testify in September before a joint hearing of two House committees on the “global climate crisis.” She had a simple message for the American lawmakers, “Do something.” She would go on to offer a copy--to the committee--of the 2018 global warming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as evidence of the severity of our world issues.
These children--along with so many more--will continue their fight against injustice that has filled this world. We should be proud of their efforts for a better future and stand with them at every opportunity. With more and more people speaking up for a cause that will benefit humanity and all creatures, the changes are coming. It’s time to join their efforts.