• Lorri

7 Girls Who Are Changing the World

Top (left to right) Mari Copeny, Mikaila Ulmer, Samaira Mehta; Bottom (left to right) Hillary Yip, Alice Paul Tapper, Greta Thunberg, Maya Penn

Who run the world? Girls! -Beyoncé

Who says you need to be an adult to be a CEO? Or an activist? Or a successful programmer? These 7 girls aren't waiting until they're grown up to achieve great things; they are hustling towards greatness right now! I am simply amazed by these young women who are truly being the change they want to see in the world. Read on and prepare to be inspired!

Samaira Mehta, age 10, Programmer, Inventor of CoderBunnyz:

Growing up in Silicone Valley, Samaira Mehta began coding at the tender age of 6 - and loved it! It's Samaira's love of coding and board games that inspired her to make her own game, CoderBunnyz, an educational game that teaches kids how to code. After testing the game by playing with local kids and developing a marketing plan with the help of her dad, CoderBunnyz launched on Amazon, selling $35,000 in its first year. The game became a catalyst for the 1 Billion Kids Can Code movement, which allows donors to give copies of the game to schools, and sets up workshops with Samaira to teach the game to other children. Samaira has been a speaker at over 60 programmer events, has led a series of workshops at Google headquarters and appeared as keynote speaker at Microsoft's Women in Technology conference. Impressed? Samaira isn't done yet! She's currently developing a new AI game, the profits from which will be donated towards People Assisting the Homeless (PATH).

Awesome kid quote: " So, for me, I live by 1 main “Life Lesson Quote.” It is “Don’t worry about failure worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”

Hillary Yip, age 12, App Developer

What do you do if you're a kid struggling to learn a second language? No worries, there's an app for that! Hillary Yip was having challenges in her attempts to learn to speak Mandarin. After participating in an exchange program in Taiwan, Hillary recognized that a key component of learning to speak another language is having ample opportunities to speak conversationally with other people - something that is missing from most language education programs. Solution? Hillary entered - and won - the AIA Emerging Entrepreneur Challenge in 2015 with her idea for MinorMynas, an app that allows kids from different countries to talk to each other via video chat, allowing them to bond and talk in a safe, kid-friendly online space. A developer picked up on Hillary's pitch for MinorMynas and the rest is history! MinorMynas is available in the Apple App store.

Awesome kid quote: " Seeing that growth and excitement has made me realise that my business has evolved far beyond just a language learning app. MinorMynas provides a safe place for kids to exchange cultures, languages, ideas and to make friends across borders."

Alice Paul Tapper, age 12, Founder of the 'Raise Your Hand' Initiative

Alice Paul Tapper went on a field trip in 4th grade and something happened that made her really upset. She noticed on this trip that all the boys in her class stood at the front of the group and raised their hands to participate, while the girls stood quietly at the back. Seeing the inequality and sensing the girl's hesitancy to participate out of fear of potential embarrassment, Alice talked to her mom about the experience and decided something needed to be done to encourage girls to participate. After discussing the problem with her scouting troop, Alice suggested that they create a Girl Scout achievement patch. The troop went to their local council, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital, which represents more than 62,000 girls in the Greater Washington, D.C., region, to present the idea for the patch. Ultimately named the Raise You Hand patch, today girls in troops across the country can earn this badge by raising their hands and participating, and encouraging at least 3 other girls to follow suit.

Awesome kid quote: "On their first date, when my mom found out that my dad’s middle name was Paul, she instantly knew that if she married my dad and had a baby girl she would call me Alice Paul. Alice Paul was one of the women who led the movement for women to have the right to vote. Having Alice Paul’s name makes me feel special. For women to be equal to men, we have to fight for it."

Mikaila Ulmer, age 13, Social Entrepreneur

When Mikaila Ulmer was just 4 years old, she was stung by a bee - twice! Most of us would steer clear of bees after having a similar experience, but not Mikaila. She became fascinated with bees, learning about their role in our ecosystem and ultimately concerned about the decline of the bee population. When her parents encouraged her to enter a children's business competition, Mikaila had the bright idea to use her Great Granny's recipe for flaxseed lemonade sweetened with honey to pitch as a product. Mikaila's named her product 'Me & the Bees Lemonade', and sold her delicious drink at numerous events, donating a portion of her sales to national and international organizations dedicated to saving the honeybees. Me & the Bees Lemonade is now sold at Whole Foods and a number of other retail stores dedicated to serving natural foods. Mikaila has expanded her reach by maintaining active social media accounts and running educational workshops on saving honeybees and participates on social entrepreneurship panels.

Awesome kid quote: "There’s always things that you’re interested in, whether that be reading, or cooking, or making jewelry, and almost every single thing can be monetized. So if you want to start a company, and especially if you want to start a company that solves a problem, it’s not very hard to come up with the idea. The hard part is getting it started. When you do get it started, you’re gonna need different mentors, whether it be your parents or your teachers or the librarian, that can walk you through the steps."

Maya Penn, age 18, CEO, Eco-designer, Animator, Author, Speaker

It's hard to keep track of all of Maya's creative endeavours - there are so many! A true multipotentialite, Maya's creative works span over a number of mediums, including animation, film-making, clothing design and writing. At the heart of all of Maya's creative output is activism, particularly centring around issues of ecological stewardship and empowerment for women and girls. Maya's clothing line - which she started at the tender age of 8 - features unique designs made from ecologically friendly materials. Her passion and drive caught the attention of none other than Oprah Winfrey, who included Maya as one of her 100 Super Soul inspired leaders. Maya has gone on to give multiple Ted Talks, made an animated video for the American Museum of Women's History, holds workshops for kids and has even published a book - pluckily named "You Got This" - that serves as a guide to help other kids find their creative passion.

Awesome kid quote: "Definitely what you put out comes back to you. What you put out in the universe will always come back in some way. Even if you don't believe it yet, the universe is listening, and I've learned that so much throughout my journey."

Mari Copeny, age 11, Social Activist

A native of Flint, Michigan, Mari Copeny has grown up in a community where water is dangerous. In 2014, Michigan changed Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River without properly treating it, resulting in dangerously high levels of bacteria and lead. Nearly 100,000 people were affected by the contaminated water supply; residents died in an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease and bathing in the toxic water caused rashes and hair loss. Frustrated at the lack of action, Mari wrote a letter to President Obama in 2016, asking him to meet with her and other Flint residents to discuss fixing the water crisis, and, to her delight, the president responded. Mari greeted President Obama, wearing a purple sash bearing the moniker 'Little Miss Flint', precociously greeting the president with hands on hips. The meeting resulted in the government's decision to allocate $100 million to fix Flint's water infrastructure. Mari hasn't stopped at advocating for clean water in her community. This Christmas, she raised $25,000 in donations so that underprivileged kids in Flint could have gifts and warm winter clothes for the holidays. Mari also uses her Little Miss Flint social media accounts to fearlessly call out President Trump and right-wing media, challenging their priorities, and reminding them that national threats aren't coming from the border, they're coming directly from water faucets in American homes.

Awesome kid quote: "My mom told me going in that a lot of times my words would not be heard and I would have to work 20 times harder than most adults because I am a kid and adults just don’t take kids seriously. I think it is important for youth to be engaged, especially now, with politicians messing with our futures and our lives before we are even old enough to vote. It is good to know that one simple march or protest won't create instant change; it's more of a kickoff to a longer race to get the change we want to see. It may seem hard and feel like you’re being ignored, but know that the more you speak up and use your voice, people will start to listen."

Greta Thunberg, age 15, Environmental Activist

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has earned a reputation for staunchness and delivering hard truths. Sweden saw very real consequences of climate change in 2018 with devastating heat waves and wildfires. Frustrated by her country's lack of action to reduce carbon emissions as per the Paris Agreement, on August 20 Greta refused to go to school, opting to protest outside the Swedish national legislature until the general elections (after the general elections, Greta continued to protest on Fridays). Greta's actions caught the attention of students worldwide, inspiring more than 20,000 students to hold strikes in at least 270 cities in countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. In November 2018, Greta spoke at TEDxStockholm, explaining how having autism creates a disconnect in her understanding about the inaction of governments and of citizens on climate threat. Just a few weeks later at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Greta fearlessly delivered a stern admonishment to the assembly, calling out their lack of action to take substantive measures towards the growing problem of climate change and accusing the privileged of stealing her generation's future well-being.

Awesome kid quote: "If a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet."

These kids are a reminder that passion, persistence and vision are the most important characteristics in success – not knowledge or experience! The common ingredient between these accomplished kids: they’re all passionate, fuelled by their inspired vision, and they just figured it out, step by step.

I hope you find these kids as inspiring as I did! Their accomplishments are an insightful lesson for all of us.

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