Young People Embrace Activism for the Common Good

Young Activists

Young Activists

Youth power ignited the Civil Rights Movement, the student nonviolent movement, the peace movement and some of today’s activists are teenagers who are continuing in the tradition of challenging the status quo. While we witness far too many cases of young people in trouble, it is refreshing and encouraging to see the exemplary examples of young people who are working for the common good.

Sarah Kavanagh
Sarah is a 17-year old Mississippi student who launched petitions online to get Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to remove a controversial ingredient from all their beverages, including Mountain Dew, Fanta and Powerade. The ingredient is brominated vegetable oil, which she noted had been patented as a flame retardant and wasn’t approved for use in Japan and the European Union.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Last year PepsiCo said it would stop using the oil in its Gatorade products. Kavanagh’s Gatorade petition had more than 200,000 online signatures, while her Powerade one had more than 59,000. Coca-Cola is also dropping the ingredient from its Powerade sports drink.

Project Impact Theatre Company
An all girls theatre troupe worked with Project Impact, a program for young girl survivors of sexual trafficking in an effort to educate audiences about human trafficking. They developed the original play A Day in the Life, which exposes the devastating effects of the commercial sex industry on the lives of girls. They wanted to use the arts to help young girls heal and to advocate for legislative changes in some communities and education in others.

Alex Lin
Alex Lin at 16-years old has helped to recycle 300,000 pounds of e-waste. He successfully lobbied the Rhode Island state legislature to ban the dumping of electronics and he has used the refurbished computers for media centers in countries like Cameroon and Sri Lanka to foster computer literacy.
Lin and his team found ways to refurbish and use the computers rather than just recycling them. More than 300 refurbished computers were donated to low-income students without home computer access. As a result of Lin’s lobbying it is now illegal to dump electronics in Rhode Island.

RaSia Khepra
RaSia and other Chicago teenagers created the anti-violence awareness campaign Project Orange Tree, a public awareness campaign that addresses the real cause of gun violence through conversations with teenagers and other community leaders. The need to address gun violence in Chicago was heightened because of the rise of murders during the summer of 2012. It was widely reported that more Chicago residents — 228 — had been killed than the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan – 144 — over the same period.
The group selected the name, Project Orange Tree because hunters wear the color to warn other hunters not to shoot and the tree represents both life and shelter.