Now more than ever, the world needs young people. We need their leadership, their compassion, and their drive. In fact, 78% of Gen Zer’s feel it is important to be seen as someone who stands up for what they believe in. For over 100 years, 4‑H has equipped young people with the skills they need to lead and positively impact their communities through acts of service, big and small. That’s why National 4‑H Council has teamed up with Invisalign to celebrate young people who are changing the world through the Invisalign® ChangeMakers initiative.
Through this new initiative, Invisalign and 4‑H will recognize 100 teens who have taken action to uplift and empower their community in 2020. The incentive: a $5,000 award and honors at a virtual event in July 2021.
So—are you changing the world? Here are six examples to help teens answer the question.
1. Feeding the community comes first: With the so many hardships experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families struggle to provide basic care for the families, like mealtime. Like the one Yusuf volunteered at, local food banks have become a saving grace for so many communities in need. Despite the risk of in-person contact, Yusuf knew he needed to lend his hand, and as a result, helped distribute more than 1,500 boxes of food.
2. Turning a creative outlet into a service project: We all have ways of coping with difficulties in our lives. Many people use those experiences to pay it forward to those will similar life challenges. Maria, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age, knew the importance of coping with sensory overload. So, she created Heavy Hugs Weighted Blankets for Autism to help others on the autism spectrum reduce sensory overload with deep pressure. In 2020, she used those same sewing skills to make masks donated to pediatric centers and hospitals.
3. Solving food insecurity: The need for more sustainable food has been an issue for communities even before the onset of a pandemic. Food distributors like grocery stores and markets struggle to meet the community’s demands with healthy food options aren’t available. Alexa wanted to do her part to make sure her community had access to food. So, she volunteered to help connect distributors and donors to food insecure communities and people in need. She has helped facilitate the distribution of over 200,00 pounds of food and growing.
4. Making learning accessible to all: The effects of the pandemic have been tough on kids, as so many students have had to shift their way of learning. This shift has impacted the availability and accessibility of educational resources. Ashini—through her organizations, Reading Rainforest and Students to Science—helps introduce kids in underrepresented groups to STEM through virtual learning sessions, access to experts, and more.
5. Fighting hunger: When schools closed due to COVID-19, many kids lost a healthy and free source of meals. Erin decided to meet kids where they are by delivering meals to their homes, ensuring they had access to nutritious foods.
6. Growing food for good: Community gardens have been an easy way to provide communities with foods that are healthy and locally grown. For Janya, being a part of her local community garden was a great way for her to use her passion for and skills in agriculture and help alleviate food shortages, now and in the future.