Five teens who changed the world

Greta Thunberg: Born in 2003, this Swedish teen activist has become a leading voice for climate change activism. In 2018, she came up with the idea for the school strike movement after staging a solo protest in August on the steps of the Swedish parliament. Since then, more than one million students have joined her by walking out of their classrooms to protest against climate change inaction. "Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago," she told a UN climate change summit. "We have to make our voices heard."

Malala Yousafzai: When she was 11, Malala Yousafzai wrote and published an anonymous diary about her life in Pakistan under Taliban rule. Soon, she began to speak out publicly about the need for girls to have proper access to education. Three years later, she was shot in the head by a gunman on a school bus. She managed to recover. In 2014 she became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Emma González: In February 2018, a gunman stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people. Many teens who survived this event began a national campaign to end gun violence. Emma González, 18, emerged as one of the leaders and co-founded a gun-control advocacy group. In March 2018, she delivered a powerful speech at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Following the campaign, Florida lawmakers passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which raises the age to buy a firearm to 21 and requires a three-day waiting period.

Jack Andraka: At age 15, student Jack Andraka invented what appeared to be a new, cheap way to detect pancreatic cancer, for which he won $75,000 at the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. He said he came up with the idea by reading free science papers. The test, which is still undergoing feasibility studies, consists of a strip of filter paper covered in a solution of carbon nanotubes and a special antibody and requires a sixth of a drop of blood.

Amika George: This student read about a charity that usually provides menstrual products to girls in Africa, but redirected the products to the English town of Leeds because there were girls there who couldn't afford them. George decided she had to do something to fight period poverty in the UK. Amika founded #FreePeriods and organized a protest in front of the British government. This pressure led the UK government to announce it would fund free sanitary products in all English schools and colleges.

Source: Five teens who changed the world
Copyright © 2021 BBC.

Back to top