How to Share Kindness To The Victims of War

One of our ILNI team members has been volunteering in a shelter welcoming families escaping the war raging in Ukraine. Here is her story.

This week I have been volunteering in a shelter welcoming families escaping the war raging in Ukraine. I started helping by distributing piles of donated clothing to the families and found my role soon expanded into much more. I met mothers, grandmothers and teenagers who wanted to talk about their experiences as they tried to process them also. Like the mother who tried to hide her terror from her young son by making the attacks into a ‘fun’ game of hide and seek in the basement and practising his numbers by counting the explosions. Or the grandmother who shuffled slowly along at a plodding pace but somehow managed to help her daughter-in-law and three infant children flee through the fighting to safety.

I soon found I was giving away as many hugs as piles of clothes while wiping away many tears (my own included). I cannot begin to comprehend the pain inflicted on these families, who have left parents, husbands and sons behind in a war zone. And I cannot fully know the trauma of travelling for days on buses and trains through a warzone to arrive in a new country with a new language. I can only hope never to feel the uncertainty they feel about what comes next—hoping one day to return to their country and wondering how to build a future in a new land. 

 

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. – Mother Teresa

 

These families seeking shelter from the war are not the first to flee to our safer nation. Many families from other countries have been welcomed over the years, all fleeing wars that have raged through their towns, lives and future plans. All were facing an uncertain future in a new land while missing home and loved ones. As the battles rage in their nations, home becomes a place they cannot return to, so we must make them feel welcome here.

We cannot physically fight the battles in their land or make any real difference to the direction of these wars, but we can help by welcoming each victim of war with kindness and compassion.

Therefore, I wanted to share some of the ways to help those fleeing conflict:

 

Donate

Below is a list some of the leading organizations helping refugees from conflicts across our globe. By donating to their efforts, you can be sure the help reaches the people in need.

 

·      Save the Children

·      RefugePoint

 

Add Your Voice

Standing in solidarity with nations experiencing war, is important. Many places are arranging peaceful protests and you can find them here.

Another way to share your voice is to join GlobalCitizen in their online protests via social media channels. 

 

Stay Informed

Follow the news via reliable news sources and learn more about the conflicts around the world. Don’t rely on social media for your information, and always check the information is accurate before sharing. A good place to start is FactCheck.

 

Help Locally

Contact your local government to connect with local initiatives to support refugee families. Many local agencies are looking for volunteers to help and for donations of essential items 

 

One of the main ways we can fight the horrors of war is to insist on loving and supporting those who flee to our shores. For, what the victims of war need most is kindness, and that is something we can all give, in endless supply. So, when youmeet someone who has sought refuge in our safer lands, please extend them a warm welcome and help them feel more at home, any way you can.  

 

~ By Fay Kortleven, author of the 30 New Days Books.

 

‘Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.’ – Princess Diana

How Digital Decluttering Is The Key To Less Stress

We have become accustomed to a high level of clutter in our digital lives. We collect and store thousands of unsorted photos on our phones, allow documents to fill up our desktops, and have thousands of emails sitting in our inboxes. This digital clutter is a major contributing factor to the low-grade stress we feel every day. The good news is a digital declutter is much easier to do than a physical one. With a digital declutter, you can declutter at the speed of light through a series of clicks.

 

The benefits of removing clutter from our homes are well-known. Most of us feel an instant stress reduction when our homes are tidy and in order. And it is the same with our digital life. Digital clutter adds stress to simple tasks. This happens when we find our time being wasted hunting through 1000s of photos to locate the one we wanted or opening and closing multiple documents to find the right version.

 

Digital clutter also expands to our online lives, where we clutter our day with distractions and overconsumption of information. This clutter creates a background hum of stress and anxiety fuelled by unread messages we must reply to, social media alerts that distract us, scrolling newsfeeds we feel compelled to check, and emails we must respond to. We feel a constant need to do something, and there is no end to the tasks. You answer one email, and there will be five more in your inbox in a few hours. This stress is compounded by alerts on your phone reminding you that there are unread messages in apps waiting for your response. We are drowning in a world that keeps piling on the digital disarray.

The benefits of a digital declutter

When we reduce and declutter our digital life, we remove unnecessary distractions and make more space for new ideas and goals. With less digital clutter and distractions, we worry less. We waste less time looking for things, and we learn to let go of things that we do not need. When our digital life is in order, our minds can relax more and stay focused on the tasks we set each day. By reducing the alerts and distractions, we cut out the things that waste our time, absorbs our energy or distract us from what is important.

 

Quick digital decluttering tasks you can do today:

Email Inbox Declutter

Delete all unread emails from more than a month ago.
Create a folder for any important emails you must keep.
Delete all read emails that are more than a month old.

The aim is to have an inbox that holds only emails you need to act on or newly arrived emails.

Clear your computer desktop

File all desktop documents into easy to find folders in your documents folder.

Clear out your downloads folder

Sort through all of the items and either file them in the correct folder in your documents folder or delete them.

Remove unused apps from your phone

So often, we download an app for a task and then forget about it. These unnecessary apps fill up your phone and become distractions when trying to find the app you want to use.

Turn off unnecessary notifications from apps and social media accounts

Constant blinking or beeping of alerts distracts and adds the low-grade stress we feel every day. A quick, easy fix is simply turning off all but the most essential alerts and giving yourself a break from the unimportant stuff.

 

We hope you will feel empowered to take it further clearing out the unnecessary digital clutter and reducing your digital distractions, each day.

 

“Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor – it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.”

– Peter Walsh

 

 

Finding Courage in Unexpected Change

Today we talk with Fay Kortleven, the author of Moving on Strong, about the challenges of unexpected change and how we can find courage in the middle of it.

If there is anything we have all learned through these last two years living through a pandemic, it is that life is all about change. And, so often, change comes at the worst time, in the most unexpected ways. As a writer, my goal has always been to help women find the courage to navigate through times of both unexpected and desired change.

When I wrote my first book about Moving on Strong from a divorce, it was written as a reminder to women of how strong and competent they are, despite the circumstances they find themselves in. It was a guidebook to finding courage in the middle of change. I was confident in the message of my book.

Then, suddenly less than two years after it was published, the most unexpected change hit my world. My ex-husband and father of our kids was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The days and months that followed will always be seared in my memory, soaked in the helplessness I felt watching him losing his battle with cancer. I was frightened and unsure if I had the strength to hold our two sons through their grief while also personally reeling from this unexpected loss of a life-long friend and co-parent. What I held onto through that time, was my belief that courage in unexpected change does not require the absence of fear, only the ability to keep going despite it.

Now, more than three years later, I continue to write about finding courage in change. I write the words I needed to hear in those moments when I was unable to think beyond the next day.

Globally we have all been impacted by the unexpected changes brought about by a virus. For many, the impacts have been devastating on a deeply personal level with changes that have left so many plans lying in ruin at our feet. It is into those moments that I want to keep whispering words of courage and kindness. It will be ok. Even from the worst of times, it is possible to move forward. Finding courage in change does not require the absence of fear. Rather, courage is the ability to keep going despite the fear.

We don’t have to be fearless in change. We only need to keep moving forward.

Fay Kortleven – AUTHOR OF the Moving on Strong Journal, 30 New Days Declutter Journal, 30 New Days Alcohol-Free for Sober Curious Drinkers and Declutter Your Digital Life in 30 New Days.

 

Blog post title

We Hold The Seeds of Hope

The IPCC Climate Report is out, and it is a CODE RED for humanity. The message is clear, we have caused some major problems for life on our planet. The result is a rapidly warming world with frequent extreme weather disasters, rising sea levels and out of control wildfires. A code red alert means there is no more time to talk or ponder our actions. There can be no more empty promises and too far future goals from governments and industry. The crisis is at the door and now is the time for action.

 

Amidst the dire warning in this report, we still see seeds of hope. We are not quite out of options. The future is not written in stone, we still have a small window of opportunity to change things. Like the Lorax, at the end of the story handing over the last seeds of a Truffula tree in the hope for a better future. We need to listen to the warnings in this report, for we hold the seeds of hope.

 

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

 (Dr Seuss, The Lorax)

 

We don’t need miracles, we need change on all levels. We need to be willing to make those changes, even the small ones. For it is the combined will of many that will convince governments and industry to finally make the changes they promised to begin years ago.

 

Our biggest threat is inaction. Now is not the time to be indifferent or passive. We face immense challenges. But if we sink into anxiety and overwhelm we will lose the will needed to make the changes we need to make. We cannot simply accept the declining state of our planet as the ‘new normal’, and then go about our day. We must realise that where there is a will there is a way. We need to be willing to change and this requires that we hold onto the seeds of hope. Without hope, we risk sitting on the sidelines in a dumb stupor of passivity. Shaking our heads and saying there is nothing we can do.

Planet over Profit

One of the messages from the IPCC report is that we can do better. We must hold onto that vision and move towards a way of living on our planet that is better than it presently is. Hope is daring to imagine a different way of life. We cannot lose hope, because we are the ones who make the future.

 

It is up to us all individually and collectively to take personal responsibility and reduce our footprint on this planet.  Regardless if you think that climate change is a natural evolution or that it is the result of man, changing our ways will benefit all.

 

The path out of this crisis is not a mystery. We know the way. It simply requires our willingness to make the changes: cut our emissions, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for transport, electricity and heating, switch to renewables, consume less (or better no) meat and dairy, plant more trees and stop burning the Amazon. And, we must actively support and encourage companies who are doing the same. Every little action we take is a step in the right direction. The big changes will come when we all move together in the same direction, expressing our choice with our wallets and votes. Then we can expect to finally see major policy changes from governments and genuine actions from private corporations and companies. That is when the seeds of hope will grow into real change for good.

 

Like the hands that held the last Truffula seed, we hold the seeds of hope. What will we do with them?

 

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.

What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”

 —Jane Goodall

 

 

 

The Future Is Hybrid – A New Normal Life In COVID Times

As we look ahead to the second half of 2021 it is becoming more obvious to us that life might not return to pre-Covid normal for a long time. And we have begun to wonder if it ever will. While it would be easy to see the negative side of this, we wanted instead to offer a positive point of view about how the near-future might look. We see it as a new type of living, a kind of hybrid life that has echoes of pre-2020 mixed with new ideas, innovations and strategies that only came about due to the strange times we have collectively lived through.

 

The Present is Awkward. 

With rolling lockdowns, daily updates on COVID cases and the ultimate conundrum of ‘should I wear a mask here or not?’, life has become a little unpredictable. It would seem that we are still discovering how deep this rabbit hole of a pandemic really goes. Will this covid journey suddenly end one morning and everything will go back to normal? Turning this pandemic into a distant shared memory for our planet, like some kind of B-grade movie that we all saw, but have no desire to ever watch again. The truth is we don’t know yet how this story will go.

 

The future is hybrid.

What we do know is that we have moved on from normal life with clear borders between our work and home lives. We have moved into a hybrid life where we can work anywhere, be entertained anywhere and get together anywhere via a combination of online connections or carefully arranged in-person meet-ups.

Being able to work or socialize anywhere sounds like a great thing, with a lot of freedom. But the past year has shown us that ‘anywhere’ really means from our living room, home office or kitchen. Our lives got smaller and bigger at the same time. We offered co-workers and bosses a look at the inside of our homes for the first time via Zoom. Even our friends got to see rooms in our homes they would not usually have seen when we face-timed while lounging on our bed.

Now we have transitioned from lockdown to a hybrid life where work sometimes happens in the office and sometimes at home. And, where our social lives might sometimes happen in a bar, they might just as easily happen online from the comfort of our sofa, especially if friends and family are separated by closed borders or positive test results.

What does this mean for us? If the future is hybrid, how can we make the best of this new normal?

 

We need to be flexible. 

A hybrid life requires us to be able to deal with sudden cancellations, changes of plan or location. A hybrid life is filled with uncertainty and this is the way it is going to be for a while. Our suggestion, when things change unexpectedly take a break, put on some music, make a coffee and go with the flow.

 

We must learn the real art of work-life balance.

Over this year and a half, we have learned that our well-being is essential. For many of us, our workplace will still sometimes be our home office or in the kitchen, as companies move to a hybrid work arrangement to avoid crowded workspaces.

This constant state of flux, from one workspace to another is tough. It requires that we focus on learning to reduce anxiety, avoid burn-out, say no to extra things and relax more often. Making clear rules for your hybrid work life is important. This might mean not checking work emails in the evening and on the weekends and not being available online outside of work hours. It can also mean saying no sometimes to friends who want to chat or facetime when they know you are working from home. Set your own rules of availability.

 

We need to be open to learning new skills. 

As we rely more and more on technology to work in this hybrid life, we need to keep upskilling. Ask for training from your work if you are struggling with a communication tool that you are not familiar with.

 

We need to stay connected socially. 

It can be tiring to spend the day working online, interacting with colleagues via zoom, emails and online collaborations. We can feel drained even when we haven’t stepped out the door or changed out of our PJs for the day. But it is important to have social connections. Even if it is just meeting a friend to walk the dog together or sitting with your partner on a sunny terrace for a coffee. Make time for real-life connections too.

 

It is essential we increase our empathy.

Your colleagues, friends and family are all trying to navigate this hybrid life too. Cut people some extra slack and be extra patient with your parents when they struggle with technology while trying to connect online. We are all learning and finding our feet in this hugely disruptive time. Be open about how this is going for you. Share your experiences and help others where you can.

 

We need to embrace the change. 

Find aspects of this hybrid life that you love, and focus on them. Remind yourself each morning how nice it is that some days your commute to work might only be as far as from your kitchen to the table. Maybe the coffee at home is far superior to what is on offer in your office. Embrace the changes and look for the ways to make it better; add new skills, follow a new passion, enjoy sitting in your garden on your coffee break.

 

It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.

L.M. Montgomery

Wild Flowers

Why We Are Wildly Enthusiastic About Rewilding

June 5 2021, World Environment Day was the start of The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. It is the beginning of an ambitious decade calling on all nations to work collectively to reverse, prevent and halt the destruction of our planet’s ecosystem. How incredible that for the first time in human history, there is a focus on upgrading nature. We are all for this!

 

A major part of this goal is ‘Rewilding’, the restoration of large areas to their natural state by reducing human control and letting nature take care of itself. You can read more about rewilding principles here.

 

Rewilding right where you are.

 

When we first heard about rewilding we understood how important this was. Then we got wildly excited when we realised that we can also participate in rewilding and upgrading nature without leaving our homes because the rewilding concept also relates to suburbia!

 

The second thing that got us excited, was the fact that rewilding leans into the concept of doing less in our garden and letting nature take more of a role. Intrigued yet? Read on.

 

7 Easy Ways to Promote Rewilding In Your Own Backyard

 

Rewilding a garden requires a little reframing of our spaces. It begins by seeing our gardens from nature’s point of view. Perfectly weed-free flower beds and manicured lawns may look good to us, but letting nature be nature by easing back on gardening tasks is far better for the environment and invites back more wildlife, greater biodiversity and bees! Here are seven easy, almost no work, ways to start right away.

 

 

1. Ditch the chemicals.

There are so many great options for controlling pests in our gardens that do not add poisonous chemicals to the environment. Swapping out the chemicals for organic methods is one easy step to make a garden more inviting to nature.

 

2. Embrace the mess

This is official permission to let your grass grow a little longer, skip the weeding and let your hedges grow. When we let nature take the lead, it will naturally create spaces in our gardens that shelter and feed birds, insects and wildlife. If you are beginning to really embrace this concept, go wild and let your grass grow into a tall meadow by adding native grasses and flowers that will attract even more local wildlife.

 

3. Plant more flowers

Planting blooming plants is an easy way to turn your garden into an oasis for bees and other pollinators. More than 95% of our crops need pollinators such as honey bees and butterflies to grow, and we can personally do our part in increasing the populations of bees and butterflies by adding flowering species to our home gardens.

 

4. Let it rot

A decaying log or pile of prunings can become a home for all manner of creatures. These small piles of garden waste are better left to slowly decompose and create more food for the birds and insects that will be attracted to the moulding goodness.

 

5. Build homes

As your garden becomes ‘wilder’ it will become more inviting to birds, bats, bees, butterflies and more. By adding some insect hotels, bird boxes and feeding areas, you can encourage this rewilding further, and enjoy a constant variety of little visitors to the garden.

 

6. Add some water

If you have space in your garden, consider making a small wetland area with a pond. A natural wildlife pond will attract amphibians and other aquatic insects back into your environment.

 

7. Share the Rewilding

Let your neighbours know about your rewilding adventures. You may even inspire them to join you in creating a combined natural area in your neighbourhood. One great way neighbours can help is by creating small corridors for animals by cutting holes into fences to allow hedgehogs and other small animals to roam between spaces.

 

Fixing the planet is a collective task. But as millions of small drops fill a bucket, so we can play a small part in an ecosystem restoration right where we live. We hope you feel inspired to postpone mowing the lawns or weeding the garden today, and instead, put your feet up and let nature do its job.

 

 

stay-at-home summer holiday

Eight Easy Ways Banish Stay-At-Home Summer Holiday Blues

Its summer, but not as we know it. It is easy to feel stay-at-home summer holiday blues as we face a very different summer this year; summer holiday plans are in ruins, vacations abroad are on hold, festivals are all cancelled, and we are all a little fearful of crowds. The prospect of more weeks at home over the summer break can feel incredibly tedious. We are all desperate for a holiday, or at least a break from this pandemic. 

To ward off any pre-holiday blues we thought it best to come up with ideas to create some summer vibes at home these holidays. Here are our eight top tips for counteracting the monotony of working and holidaying at home. 

1.    Turn off your devices

If you are working from home, likely, you never switch off entirely from work. All lines between work and home have blurred, and we never seem to stop working. Summer holidays are usually our one big chance to get away from the office and take a well-earned break. When your office is now in the spare bedroom, taking a complete break from work is almost impossible. The only way is to turn off your computer and your phone, take off your watch and refuse to check your emails for at least a couple of days. Let some summer vibes in by taking a day off to sit in your garden with a book. You deserve it. 

2.   Enjoy Your Back Yard 

While we can’t get away to a fabulous beachfront location this year, we can try to make the most of an unfortunate situation. If you wanted a reason to upgrade your garden furniture, this is it. There is no better time to invest in some fantastic garden furniture to transform your backyard into a tropical oasis. Add a hammock, parasol and some outdoor lighting to turn your yard into a place worthy of an exceptional stay-at-home summer holiday. 

3. Discover your new favourite summer cocktail

Experiment with making personalised summer cocktails. Find a great cocktail recipe that makes the most of summer fruits, fresh herbs and exciting liquors. If alcohol-free drinks are your preference, try experimenting with different lemonades and iced teas. Add lots of crushed ice and serve in tall glasses.

Our favourite recipe:

The Sparkling Berry Cocktail

1/8 cup of berries (frozen or fresh) 

1 tsp sugar 

1.5oz vodka 

Prosecco 

Mix all the ingredients in a classic champagne glass and serve with a slice of lemon.

4.    Embrace Laziness

Summer holidays are about relaxing and putting your feet up. This isn’t so easy when you are stuck at home. There is a natural tendency to keep busy doing the usual chores and tasks around our homes and never truly take a break. For a few days, take a break from all chores; supermarket shopping, cleaning, and even cooking if you can. Enjoy at least a day each week of freedom to do whatever you want to – with no obligations.  

5.    Summer Tunes 

Create a great summer playlist that reminds you of beach holidays or travelling to exotic locations. Music can improve our mood and energise us. So turn up the volume as you relax on your new hammock and embrace the easy-going joy of having a stay at home summer holiday this year.

6.    Brighten Up

Summer is the time for bright, breezy and fun outfits. As the weather warms up, it is time to ditch the work at home comfortable style we have been sporting all year. It is now time to opt for a brighter and more fun look. We love this season’s brilliant shades of pink, white and orange.

7.    Holiday Food

Summer holidays are made for indulging in fresh, delicious food. Just because we are holidaying around home does not mean we cannot indulge a little (a lot). We suggest making sure you have a large fruit bowl filled with fresh summer fruits; watermelons, cherries, berries, melons and nectarines. We also love the idea of recreating some of our favourite holiday meals at home. This could be as simple as a lazy continental breakfast of orange juice, croissants and coffee. Or a full dinner menu with your favourite pasta dish with a nice Chianti, followed by tiramisu.  

8.    Full Bloom

Fresh flowers have the ability to make everyone feel good. Adding some bright flowers or lush greenery can bring a luxury hotel feel to our homes. It is easy to make a beautiful arrangement filled with fresh summer blooms from your local florist. Even better, arrange for a new bouquet to arrive each week of the holiday. 

 

We wish you a happy summer break, and we hope our summer vibe suggestions spark some joy in this most unusual stay-at-home summer holiday. 

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

– John Lubbock

Mastering The Fine Art Of Questioning Our Assumptions

Information is coming at us at the speed of light every moment of our day. There is an endless supply of news feeds, social media posts, emails and messages clambering for our attention all the time. No one can give their full attention to all this data.  This avalanche of information requires that we prioritize what gets our attention. Therefore, we quickly judge an email by the subject line, a news article by the headline or a social post by the graphic. We hastily make decisions about what is valuable, informative, or useful to us. We judge content at the speed of light. This daily processing of information requires making hasty judgments and assumptions based on incomplete information. The result is that we are continuously forming inaccurate perceptions based on scant data and further reinforcing unfair biases in our thinking.

The point is, we often get things wrong, especially when we are in a rush, or are not paying close attention. Our perceptions are usually inaccurate. When we are moving at speed through the level of information that crosses our path daily, we do not take the time to get to the truth of the matter. We read a terrible news story and often assume the worst about the people involved, without stopping to consider any other sides of the story. We very rarely pause long enough to think about any intentional or misleading bias in the story we have read. Instead, we jump to conclusions about the story and the people in it, often forming assumptions about an entire race, political party or internet group based solely on the unfortunate actions of a few, in a news story with a headline written to hold our short attention span.

We are drawn to stories which trigger an emotional reaction.  Especially those that enrage or anger us. When we scroll through a website, we are picking the articles to read based on the headlines that cause a reaction in us.  We often pay more attention to emotionally triggering negative information and are more likely to read about a disaster than a good news story. Likewise, on a social platform, shocking graphics or anger-inducing posts will always get more attention, comments and engagement. It is only human nature.

With all this scrolling and assumption making, we position ourselves firmly on one side of an issue. And, once we have made our mind up about our position on this issue, we actively seek confirmation that our position is correct. This confirmation bias ensures we engage with and read more information that reflects our point of view. We don’t have the time to canvas opposing opinions or read articles that contradict our view.

What can we do about this?

First, we can cut back on the scrolling through social media posts, turn off alerts for a while and limit our screen time. We don’t need to be constantly updated on what is happening around the world in real-time.

We can learn to pause before assuming the worst about a person or group of people in a situation we read about online. It is better to accept that we do not know the full story. Remember that the story will, without a doubt continue to evolve as more information comes out. So have some empathy for the people featuring in an alarming news story, they are complex human beings, and their part in the story is rarely as one-dimensional as a news headline would have us believe.

Beyond the individuals in a story, we must remember that every group is made up of unique individuals with vastly different views, goals, ethics and opinions. Despite what some online content would have us believe, there is no completely homogenous organization or nation in the world.  Even the most well-organized group does not have the all-encompassing power to force all members to think and act the same way. It doesn’t happen that way, so let’s not judge an entire group by the actions of a few. If you have formed an opinion about a group of people, allow these biases to be challenged and questioned. It is perfectly ok to find you are wrong about something, even if that point of view is a long-held one.

Finally, push through the information overload to find positive stories. Yes, you may have to scroll to the bottom of the news feed to find a good news story, but find them, read them and share them all around.

Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.     

Alan Alda

 

Youngster holding phone

How To Change the World From Your Phone – Lessons From Gen Z Activism

In our last post, we looked at Five Youth Leaders leading the drive to educate, take action and see real change in our world. In today’s post, we wanted to explore how they are doing this. How is it possible to mobilize a group of diverse young people into waves of protests and actions all around the world? How are these incredible movements ensuring their voices get heard by everyone, including world leaders and global organizations?

The youth movements of today have shown they have an unprecedented ability to rapidly share information and organize remotely using social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. These social media platforms have transformed into crucial tools to inspire and educate others. This use of social media is revolutionizing youth-led activism and gaining momentum. It is giving youth a powerful voice. The power of these combined voices was evident around the world when four million young people—many under the age of twenty-five joined climate change marches in September last year. The global school strike was one of the world’s largest youth-led strikes ever. 

Youth activism, like social media, is not new. But how are these youth-led movements gaining such momentum? 

 

Activism and Protests 

Youth movements have figured out the power of numerous protest activities. It is not only about marching on a street; demand for change is expressed through sit-ins, #hashtags, walkouts, and many more. These loud and disruptive protest actions have become an unrelenting push for change, expanding awareness and causing lawmakers to change direction on policies. 

 

Youth-led research

Young people are conducting their own studies about significant issues. They understand that activism needs solid backing in truth. For this reason, many of the movements you see on the streets, also have crucial behind the scenes actions: developing reports to present to decision-makers, sharing factual and meaningful information through social media, and educating others about the issues. 

 

Media makers

Young people are proving they are experts at using the media to share their passion for these issues. Traditional media is struggling to keep up with the speed of information sharing on social media platforms. Online youth newspapers and websites, hashtags and infographics are easily shared through messaging apps. In this way, youth activists are not only finding their voice, they are developing channels to share real-time reporting on demonstrations and actions. They have harnessed the power of sharing information for change.  

 

Artists

Youth activists are exercising the right to free speech and expression using art as a medium to alter opinions, build community and share cultural expression. Their ability to express their issues is making sure they are not ignored. Graffiti art, slam poetry and acting are only some of the ways this is happening. 

 

Critical consumerism  

There is power in the way young people shop. By making critical decisions about how and where they shop, many youth activists are finding they can impact on a large scale and raise the consciousness of their friends and families. Youth shopping intentionally is pushing change on issues like poverty, fair-trade, child labour, gender equality and sustainability.  

 

Boycotts

Beyond critical consumerism, youth-led boycotts are a powerful tool that can quickly pressure a company to make a U-turn on a decision they have made. 

 

Votes

Many of the voices in these powerful youth-led movements are now or soon will be old enough to vote. They are advocating and educating others about the power of their vote. There are youth leaders who will be standing for government and will rely on the youth vote to take their seats among decision-makers who will be making the decisions for the coming years. 

Gen-Z activists are a crucial voice for a generation who will be disproportionately affected by problems such as gun violence, poverty and climate change— all problems they have inherited from us. We hold hope that their new ways of mobilizing and pushing for change will work better than what we have tried in the past, and we stand in support of them all. 

“People of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

– Leonardo DaVinci
Young Women who may change the world

Five Young Women Who May Change The World

This week we saw the disruption of a major political campaign rally by a group of teenagers on TikTok. The power of youth organisations to disrupt and push for change is a force that cannot be underestimated. In recent years, we have watched as young people have said ‘enough’ to our apathy towards gun control, climate change, racism and more. 

Fantastically organised groups of youth have mobilised and made their voices heard over the adult noise of this world. They are disrupting for change in ways we hadn’t thought of, and are bringing attention to issues we should have solved already. 

With this recent reminder of the creativity and cleverness of youth movement, we thought it was the perfect time to find out more about five young women activists that are making waves for change around the world. 

Greta Thunberg

Perhaps the most instantly recognisable youth activist on our list is the young schoolgirl from Sweden who decided to stage a one-girl school strike outside the Swedish Parliament for climate change. Greta Thunberg’s “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (Strike for climate) became a global phenomenon when hundreds of thousands of students joined her in striking for climate all around the world. On March 15, 2019, nearly a million students in more than 100 nations carried out marches protesting climate inaction. Greta and the movement she ignited, have succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift and a worldwide campaign calling for urgent change. 

“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,”

Greta Thunberg
photo credit: NBC News

Bana Alabed

A young girl stuck in a war zone captured the world’s attention when she took to Twitter to document the violent siege of her hometown Aleppo in war-torn Syria. Bana Alabed gave us an unfiltered account of airstrikes, hunger, displacement and many other dangers of living in a city under attack. Her call for a peaceful future brought a sense of urgency around the world in seeking a solution to the Syrian conflict. She and her family eventually escaped to Turkey, and her experiences became the book “Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace” (2017). Bana still uses Twitter (with the help of her mum) to focus on the reality of children in war. 

I hope my book will make the world do something for the children and people of Syria and bring peace to children all over the world who are living in war.

Bana Alabed
Photo credit Forbes

Emma González 

Emma’s life changed forever on February 14, 2018, when a gunman entered her school, killing 14 students and three teachers. Emma survived the attack, and with a group of fellow student survivors, she helped organise a nationwide March For Our Lives protest. These students called for legislative change to prevent gun violence in the U.S. This group of students mobilised thousands of other students through social media to attend demonstrations about gun control. March For Our Lives was one of the most successful examples of youth activism before the climate strikes. These rallies, organised and led by students attracted people of all ages demanding change.  

“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks.” 

Emma González 
Photo Credit Middle East Business

Malala Yousafzai

Malala is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate for human rights advocacy. When the Taliban took control of her town and banned girls from going to school, Malala started writing about it. Her blog posts gained the attention of the BBC, who published them. She detailed the military occupation and the Taliban’s growing influence in the region. She used her blogs to speak out against their violent regime. These blogs made her a target, and in October 2012 she was shot by a masked gunman in her school bus. Miraculously Malala survived, and her attack sparked a global condemnation of the Taliban and their practices. Malala now lives in England, where she founded the non-profit, Malala Fund, and co-wrote the best-selling memoir “I Am Malala” about her ordeal (2013). While the Taliban still considers Malala a target, she remains a staunch advocate for the power of education for all. 

“The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women… Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”

Malala Yousafzai

Nupol Kiazolu

Nupol Kiazolu held her first protest when she was 13 when she wore a black hoodie to school with “Do I look suspicious?” painted on the back in protest of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Now at 21, she is the President of the Youth Coalition for Black Lives Matter in New York. In protest of the recent killing of George Floyd, she started organising and mobilising others into some of the largest peaceful protests in New York. Nupol does far more than organise protest marches. She is currently working on drafting legislation for change, hosting youth coalitions, teaching others how to be active organisers and running a political action committee supporting grass-roots political candidates for the upcoming elections. Her energy and passion are inspiring. 

I don’t have the luxury and privilege as a black woman to sit in my house and do nothing. Whether I sit at home or go outside, I can be killed because of the color of my skin, which is why, in the middle of a global pandemic, black organisers are forced to go outside.

Nupol Kiazolu

These incredible young women have found their voices and shown their peers that they can also use their voices for change. They have shown they have the authority and legitimacy to speak and act on these issues and be heard. We applaud them for taking on the problems that our generation has not yet solved. By embracing their ideas, unique perspectives and social mobilisation power, we hope that together we can finally find some solutions to the problems that plague our world.