Last week Australian teenagers decided to strike from going to school for a day to protest Australia’s current policy on climate change. Regardless of your political leanings or opinions, it’s hard to not celebrate young people standing up and caring about their nation and it’s future – particularly when most of the commentary around young people is that they’re lazy and self-involved. Yet, here we are with politicians and keyboard warriors making it very loud and clear that teenagers need to sit down and be quiet.
So here’s a very small selection of the many, many teenagers who have changed the world as a solid reminder that teenagers have made some of the most important changes to this world. Their voices, thoughts, and impacts are desperately wanted.
Iqbal was a Pakistani boy who was forced to work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, by his parents at age 4 to pay off their debts. At age ten he heard that child labor was illegal and escaped to the police, who returned him to his “boss”. He escaped again and would go on to help over 3000 children in “bonded labor” escape to freedom.
Joan was a French peasant girl who believed that God had called her to lead France to victory against the English (in a very, very, very long-running war). At age 18, with no military background at all, she convinced crown prince Charles of Valois to let her lead the French army, under her guidance they had a massive victory. Interestingly she was tried for witchcraft and burned at the stake – turns out the political and social forces of 1431 didn’t like young people stepping up, either.
No prizes for guessing what he did! At age 15 Louis invented the Braille language for the blind. He was inspired to find a way for vision impaired people to read and write after losing sight at age 3.
At age 16 Barbara went on strike to protest the below standard facilities at her segregated school in the US. A couple of lawyers saw this activism and would take her case to court to fight for equality in the education system. It would later be used as evidence that segregated schools are unconstitutional in the United States.
In 2014, 17-year-old Malala became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient. She gained attention for speaking out against the Taliban and encouraging girls to pursue an education – this resulted in her being shot on her way to school at age 15.
Incredible stories of overcoming adversity to go on and impact the world in really meaningful ways – if you’re young, inspired and have something you want to do don’t let the lie that “you’re too young” hold you back. This lie has existed for thousands of years, one of the Christian churches most significant figures, Paul the Apostle, wrote to a young man he was mentoring “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young” around the time of 65AD!!!!
So go – find a meaningful way to get started on the thing you want to do with your life right NOW!