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Youth in Chile started the mass rebellion against the Pinochet era Constitution

Students from the National Institute, Chile’s oldest and most famous public high school, in October 2019 started a movement that spread across the nation, a rebellion against the inequities embedded in Chilean society as a result of the Pincohet era Constitution. This movement grew to the extent that the conservative government of President Pinera agreed to hold a national vote on the drafting of a new constitution, first set for April 2020 but delayed to this month as a result of the pandemic. 

Haile Thomas, 16

Haile Thomas has been an advocate for proper diet and nutrition from a young age. At the start of last year, Haile became the youngest certified health coach in the United States after graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In 2012, she founded HAPPY (Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth), a nonprofit organization that provides affordable culinary education to the youth in malnourished communities. When explaining what motivated her to choose this career path Haile had the following to say: “When I was 8 years old, my dad was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes, a disease caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices,” she explains. “This diagnosis opened the eyes of my entire family. We started to learn about the importance of exercise and how food really affects the body.”

 

Izzy Raj-Seppings, 13

As Australia burned from tragic bushfires, on Thursday I joined hundreds of others to demand action from our prime minister outside his Kirribilli residence.

It was a whirlwind of emotions and action. The drastic change from motivational speeches, to a peaceful sea of tents awaiting the PM’s climate action, to a squad of riot police moving through the crowd arresting people, was unsettling.

Many people have asked me what motivated me to drag my dad on a one-hour bus trip to Kirribilli House on one of the hottest days of summer. My answer? Our politicians’ denial, and the inaction of our government and our prime minister. Their denial has gone on for far too long. I’m tired, tired of the lies and misdirection. I’m tired of watching my future, my friends’ and family’s futures, all of our futures, burn before our very eyes.

How dare Scott Morrison race off to Hawaii during Australia’s time of crisis? What we need is a prime minister who acknowledges that this isn’t another normal fire season, that the cause of this is climate change! Lives and homes have been taken while Morrison lies on a tropical beach with his head in the sand.

When I first arrived at the protest it was a happy sight: young kids, families, students, adults young and old. Some were in costumes, some had painted faces, others had signs and banners. All gathered at the end of a small cul-de-sac, under a blazing sun. All there with a story, a purpose, a reason. The number of police didn’t

After the rally wrapped up, a number of people announced that they had decided to camp out until Morrison returned from his holiday. The crowd had mixed emotions, some cheered while others looked on with surprise and apprehension. Tents were pitched, food and games were passed around. We settled in, made new friends, exchanged stories. Even a Christmas tree was put up.

At this point, many more police vans had pulled up. Greens MP David Shoebridge arrived and complained to the police that it was unreasonable to move us as we weren’t hurting anybody or blocking anything. A “move on” order was issued. We chanted in response. We had a reason to be here – our prime minister is missing in action on the most important issue of our time.

Right before the riot police came it was quiet; dense smoke swirled over the road. A sense of unease settled over me. A squad of about 25 fully suited and armed riot police came marching over the hill. It was like something out of a movie. The officers approached the wall of students and protesters with intense intimidation tactics. They went for the loudest and most motivating people first, the natural leaders, grabbing their arms and pulling them into the police van if they didn’t comply.

I watched shocked and confused as my friends and fellow protesters were scattered, arrested and escorted off premises. It was chaotic, people were scrambling around filming on phones and photographers were buzzing around, capturing acts of bravery and courage in the face of injustice.

My dad and I were told to move on, which we did, but as I moved on I held my sign high in the sky:

Look at what you’ve left us 
Watch us fight it 
Watch us win.

It’s a day I won’t forget in a hurry.

 

Alexandria Villasenor, 15

“We want world leaders to hold polluters accountable,” Alexandria Villaseñor told the audience at the 10th annual Social Good Summit on Sept. 22, speaking on behalf of her fellow members of the Youth Climate Strike. 

At 14 years old, Villaseñor is one of the youngest members of the global climate strike. She is the co-founder of US Youth Climate Strike and founder of Earth Uprising, a youth-led climate organization. 

On Friday, Villaseñor attended the climate strike in New York City, but it wasn’t her first time. “I’ve been on climate strike every Friday for the past 41 weeks in front of the UN headquarters,” Villaseñor said on the Summit stage. 

Villaseñor has been a climate activist ever since she was impacted by the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California. “I saw the connection between California’s wildfires and climate change,” she said, speaking alongside Elizabeth Yeampierre, co-chair of Climate Justice Alliance and environmental activist, and Nandita Raghuram, Social Good editor at Mashable. 

After the Camp Fire, Villaseñor was inspired by fellow youth activist Greta Thunberg to join the fight and demand action on climate change.

Villaseñor’s biggest goal is to see meaningful climate action taken by world leaders. For her, this means pollution reduction and consequences for the people who are actively polluting the planet. 

As the youth climate movement gains speed, Villaseñor knows that students don’t have to bear the brunt of the fight. “Adults are able to amplify students’ messages,” she said, speaking about older generations. “What I would like to see from them is their help and their advocating for us.”

Villaseñor recognizes that the climate movement needs to be intersectional. “I do think that people of color need to be the ones leading this movement because they’re experiencing the effects,” said Villaseñor. Frontline communities are disproportionately made up of people of color, and Villaseñor wants to make sure that they’re not only educated on climate change but understand what they can do to combat it and welcomed to do so.

As more and more people around the world get involved in combating climate change, Villaseñor feels more optimistic about the future. “When OPEC call the [Fridays for Future] movement the number one threat to the oil industry, you really can see how the movement has created a difference,” she said. 

As a student, participating in the fight against climate change allows Villaseñor to make a real difference. “I’m only 14, I can’t vote for four years,” she said. Until then, she plans to enact change in other ways. 

 

Hannah Watters, 15

A viral photo showing students in a Georgia high school crowded in hallways and with few visible masks resulted in the sophomore who posted it being suspended, she said.

Hannah Watters, a student at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, saw a photo of packed halls on the first day of school go viral. And when she saw that little had changed after that, she told CNN’s Laura Coates on Thursday, she felt she had to share what it looked like inside the school. So, she took a photo of the scene and posted it to social media.

“I was concerned for the safety of everyone in that building and everyone in the county because precautions that the CDC and guidelines that the CDC has been telling us for months now, weren’t being followed,” Watters said.

 

Hannah was then suspended for 5 days by the school’s principal. When the story went viral, the school district’s superintendent withdrew the suspension and apologized. Hannah quoted John Lewis, noting that “I’d like to say this is some good and necessary trouble.”

 

 

Eddy Binford Ross, 17

On Eddy Binford-Ross’s second night reporting on the protests in Portland, Ore., federal officers let off enough tear gas to fill the street in front of the federal courthouse and an entire city park across the street. The smokelike plumes sent her scattering along with the protesters.

“I couldn’t see because my eyes were burning,” she told The Washington Post. “I couldn’t breathe because my throat was burning. I almost threw up because I was coughing so hard.” 

Like many journalists covering the tense demonstrations, Eddy has faced serious threats: She has been tear-gassed every night, had three stun grenades lobbed in her direction, been shoved against a wall by police and had a federal officer repeatedly point a gun at her.

But Eddy may be the only front-line reporter regularly risking her safety to write for a high school newspaper.

Despite the danger and a few bruises, the 17-year-old has returned to downtown Portland every night to cover the standoff between local protesters and federal law enforcement officers from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service. The photos, videos and scenes she has tweeted and published online have earnedher high praise from professional reporters and activists.

 

Alia Al Mansoori, 15

In 2017, Alia’s research on heat shock proteins won her the Genes in Space Award. She discovered that these could potentially be used as a shield for the human body for conditions such as microgravity and radiation that are typically encountered in outer space. “Astronauts can’t keep wearing suits to protect us forever,” she claims. “I wanted to find a way to keep us safe from the inside out.”

First there was a flash of light, followed by a wall of sound, as the Falcon 9 rocket lifted into clear Florida skies, carrying the dreams of Emirati teenager Alia Al Mansoori into space. Loaded on the Dragon capsule on top of the Space X rocket was her winning experiment in the UAE Genes in Space competition, sponsored by The National, the UAE Space Agency and Boeing. 

Watching the Falcon 9 climb into the sky, Alia said: “I literally can’t believe that my experiment is now in space. All the months of effort was worthwhile. The feeling I got when it launched was just so inspiring.” The experiment has a number of applications, including researching diseases and also seeing if it is possible to test human genomes in space – something which has never been done before. If successful they will help humans better prepare for the radiation experienced in deep space flight to destinations like Mars – one of Alia’s ambitions.

 

Rohan, Suri 17

Rohan Suri is the founder of Averia Health Solutions, “The World’s Most Inexpensive and Accurate Concussion Test.” The method uses nothing more than the practitioner’s smartphone and a headset to perform the diagnosis via eye tracking tests. Rohan was motivated to develop Averia after his brother was misdiagnosed with a concussion. At the time, the success of eye tracking tests was being held back by the costly equipment necessary to perform the tests. Since then, Rohan’s invention has gained a considerable amount of traction after successfully diagnosing hundreds of patients.

Young Women Organize and Lead Protest in Nashville

On Thursday, local teenagers— Nya Collins, Zee Thomas, Jade Fuller and Emma Rose Smith—organized and led a massive march through the streets of Nashville to protest police brutality, making their way through Bicentennial Park to Broadway to the state Capitol. The protest started at 4 p.m., and according to some estimates, the march drew at least 10,000 people.

The event was organized by Teens for Equality, which began the protest with a series of emotional speeches from its members.

Teen organizer Zee Thomas gives a speech at the start of Thursday’s youth-led protest against police brutality. “As teens, we are tired of waking up and seeing another innocent person being slain in broad daylight,” said Zee Thomas, one of the six teenage girls who organized the mass protest. “As teens, we are desensitized to death because we see videos of black people being killed in broad daylight circulating on social media platforms. As teens, we feel like we cannot make a difference in this world, but we must.”

The protesters gathered behind a large banner reading “black lives matter” and headed toward downtown, stopping to chant, kneel and rally throughout the march. The thousands of demonstrators filled a roughly one-mile stretch of Rosa Parks Boulevard as they left Bicentennial Park and made their way downtown. When the protesters arrived at Broadway, they were stopped by police just before they reached the row of neon-signed honky-tonks. The marchers dropped to their knees as some protesters read out the names of those killed by police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

 

Maanasa Mendu, 15

This brilliant 13-year-old figured out how to make clean energy using a device that costs $5

On Tuesday, Maanasa Mendu, a 13-year-old from Ohio, won the grand prize in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work in creating a cost-effective “solar leaves” design to create energy. In addition to winning the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist,” she gets $25,000 for her achievement.

The leaves, designed to help developing areas in need of cheaper power sources, cost roughly $5 to make.

Over the past three months, Mendu and nine other finalists worked on their projects alongside a mentor provided by 3M. Mendu was inspired to come up with a cheaper way to produce energy after visiting India, where she saw many people who lacked access to affordable clean water and electricity. Originally, her intent was to harness only wind energy.

But along the way, Mendu, with the help of her 3M mentor Margauz Mitera, shifted to a different kind of energy collection. Drawing inspiration from how plants function, she decided to focus on creating her “solar leaves” that harnessed vibrational energy.

Here’s how it works: her “leaves” can pick up energy from precipitation, wind, and even the sun using a solar cell and piezoelectric material (the part of the leaf that picks up on the vibrations). These are then transformed into usable energy. 

Now that the competition is over, Mendu said she wants to develop the prototype further and conduct more tests so that one day she can make it available commercially.