The power of a young person

Young people are fearless, dynamic and self-confident. They are filled with hope, ideas and aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions. They have become problem solvers and have increased the momentum to generate a positive social change across the world.

The number of young people across the world who are pushing for change, pushing for what is right, across all sectors of life, seems to be increasing. Three in particular that have been leading the way in recent times are the sixteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg who initiated the ‘school strike for climate’ movement; the twenty-two year old, Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, who is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate and is an activist for female education; and last but not least, twelve year old Dujuan Hoosan, an Aboriginal boy from Australia who is bringing the world’s attention to Australia’s youth detention laws.

All three of the above heroes are from different parts of the world and are making headway to change our world. This all started with simple conversations that led to speaking at an international level. Dujuan has called the world’s attention to Australia’s youth detention laws and has travelled to the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to tell his story. When Dujuan was 10, he ran away from school and after an altercation with the police, nearly found himself behind bars. His family stepped in and put him on the land to learn about his culture. Since then, he has become a powerful advocate for Indigenous-led education models to be used around Australia.

In saying this, Dujuan still felt the nerves that the rest of us adults do, “I will be a bit shy to speak to all the countries at the United Nations because adults never listen to kids – especially kids like me. But we have important things to say”.

Like Dujuan, Greta and Malala have also put themselves on the line to speak out against injustices.

Greta became concerned with climate change at the age of 8 after watching documentaries in her classroom. At the age of 11, she became depressed, largely because of the dire climate change situation and the government’s lack of action on the matter. She was able to overcome her depression by speaking out about climate change and taking action. On August 20th, 2018 she carried out her first school strike outside the Swedish Parliament. For the next 21 days, she continued to strike and slowly more and more people joined her. A little over a year later, millions of people have joined her on strikes against climate change.

Malala grew up in Pakistan where she faced the ban implemented by the Taliban, prohibiting girls from attending school. In 2009 when Malala was 11, the Taliban occupied her region and she wrote a blog for the BBC, documenting her experience of life during the occupation. She was inspired by her father (a teacher himself) and his love for education. In 2012, while on a bus Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban – an assassination attempt for speaking out against the Taliban. She now lives in the UK where she was transferred while recovering in hospital. Upon recovery, Malala became a well-known international activist for women’s and children’s rights and has co-authored I Am Malala and starred in the Oscar-shortlisted documentary He Named Me Malala. 

It is humble and courageous people like Dujuan, Greta and Malala that our world leaders need to pay attention to.

These young people are our future, and when I see young people walk through Bonnie’s doors, I know that they are also acting out our future. It is a privilege to play a small part in supporting the future leaders of our world.

Written by Ciara, Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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