15 Ways Teens Are Changing the World

Don’t let news and media get you down. These stories of amazing kids prove that there is hope for our future.

Don’t let news and media get you down. These stories of amazing kids prove that there is hope for our future.

1. The girl who said, “Love yourself first.”


Sanah Jivani, who has alopecia, turned her condition into something positive. She was a teenager when she decided to lose her wig and go natural. Now she encourages everyone to find a way to be and love themselves on Natural Day, February 13.

2. The teens who said, “We can get California to use less water.”


These kids in California’s Santa Clara County are tackling one of the biggest problems in the West: water shortage. They did this through the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, which encourages kids to look and solve problems within their own communities. The teens developed creative solutions for California’s water problem, and they won more than $100,000 for their school along the way. Challenge a teacher you know or your own kid to enter today.

3. The girl who said, “I will walk on Mars one day.”


Alyssa Carson has wanted to be an astronaut since she was 3! She calls her age group the “Mars Generation,” and she plans to change the future of space travel. “There is water on Mars. This could possibly be our next Earth,” she says. Alyssa has been to space camp seven times, she can speak four different languages, and she hosts her own events all over the country. This girl is definitely going places, and if things go according to plan, those places will be far, far away.

4. The boy who said, “I can make fitness fun.”


You might not imagine a 12-year-old when you think of a fitness instructor, but then again, you’ve never met C.J. Senter. C.J. discovered he had a unique ability to motivate others when he became the leader of his Atlanta football team. He figured he could use similar tactics to motivate other kids and help fight childhood obesity, so he put together his own DVD series. One of C.J.’s signature moves is power jacks.

5. The boy with one arm who said, “I can do everything anyone else can do.”


Matthew Hannon might only have one arm, but you sure wouldn’t know it by the way he plays baseball. He lost his left arm because of cancer when he was just a baby, but today at age 8, he throws, hits and pitches just fine. Matt looks up to Yankees pitcher Jim Abbott, who only had one hand, and he’s like a ray of sunshine in his family, community and school.

6. The girl who said, “Donate. Don’t dump.”


Gabrielle Posard was shocked when she found out how much food gets dumped from supermarkets and food companies just because of a few brown spots or because it’s short-dated. As a teenager, she’s brought a whole new meaning to the term “food rescue.” Through the nonprofit Donate Don’t Dump, companies can save their food for those in need instead of it ending up in landfills. Gabrielle and her company save more than half a million pounds of food each year.

7. The brothers who said, “Every kid should start school with the right supplies.”


When brothers Jackson and Tristan learned that many kids start school without any school supplies at all, they decided to do something to help. They learned about kids in foster care, homeless shelters and others who just couldn’t afford the necessary supplies, and they held a drive to help these kids out. That was more than five years ago, and their nonprofit, Backpacks for New Beginnings, is still going strong today. Just recently, they hit a new record with more than 1,000 backpacks with supplies donated in one year.

8. The lovable, smiling kid who said, “You’re gooder than that.”


He spreads pure happiness and joy in his videos all over YouTube. It’s impossible to watch Robby Novak without smiling. His “A Pep Talk From Kid President to You” video has more than 36 million views. In it Robby says, “It’s like that dude Journey said: ‘Don’t stop believing … unless your dream is stupid, and then you should get a better dream.’” At least he thinks that’s how it goes.

9. The students who said, “Let’s help our friends in wheelchairs.”


The students at Galena High School in Nevada wanted to help their fellow classmates Kenny and Hunter, who are both in wheelchairs. They took information they learned from STEM education classes and applied them in a project to create adaptive equipment for them. One student said, “Although this contest has a potential of winning prizes, after going through the process, a far bigger win has been felt in the ways that we have been able to enhance the lives of Kenny and Hunter.”

10. The boy who said, “Let’s show kids living with cancer that we care through music.”


Teagan Stedman was only 8 when he started Shred Kids’ Cancer. A friend of his was living with cancer, and he wanted to find a way to help. This was the year he held his first Shredfest, a benefit concert for kids living with cancer. The event was a blast and even featured a kid “battle of the bands” contest. Shredfest is now held every year in California, and there are other Shred Kids’ Cancer events starting to spread across the country.

11. The girl who said, “Everyone should live in a world with books.”

Mark Bernhardt / Via just1book.org

Sarah Dewitz was 10 when she read about kids facing hardships in a nearby community. They lacked some basic necessities like books. “It made me think how I would feel if my world did not have books in it,” she said. “With the hard times many families are facing, some might not even have a car to drive to the library.” Sarah started Just 1 Book. To date, she’s collected around half a million books and even raised money for a bookmobile that takes books directly to the communities in need.

12. The girl who said, “No more bullying.”


Elayna’s mom told her that it just takes one person to make a difference, and she took that to heart. She created the organization Girls Against Bullying Girls to encourage girls to support one another rather than tearing one another down.

13. The students who said, “Everyone should have access to fresh veggies.”


As part of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, these high school students in Pennsylvania developed a way to grow veggies vertically. Fruits and veggies are readily available everywhere in America, so this is huge for urban environments with limited space.

14. The girl who said, “Dare to dream.”


Kenzie was 11 when her dad was deployed to Afghanistan. “There are no words to really explain the sight of seeing my dad leaving us to go to war; just remembering it sends chills down my spine,” she said. Her parents wouldn’t let her live in fear, though. So that year, they encouraged both her and her little sister to live out a dream. She had always wanted to be an actress, so they took her to auditions and encouraged her in every way that they could. Along the way, Kenzie decided that she wanted other kids in her situation to be able to live out their dreams too. Brat Pack 11 was created, and today it continues making the dreams of kids who have family members deployed come true.

15. The girl who said, “Let’s have a different kind of beauty pageant.”


Jordan Somer grew up as a pageant girl, and she always loved them. “Pageants taught me that success was not getting first place but letting myself take control over the person I wanted to become,” she said. Jordan was volunteering with Special Olympics when she had an idea—what if these girls could also benefit from pageants in the same way that she had? In November 2007, she held the first Miss Amazing pageant specifically for girls with special needs. Now there are programs in more than 20 states, all of which encourage girls to shoot for their own personal success.

Dana Truby

Posted by Dana Truby

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