TEENS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 1:30-2:30 PM
Three courageous and creative young adults who have already changed things for the better within their communities, cultures, and societies.
William Kamkwamba grew up in Malawi believing that magic ruled the world and hardship dominated life. The story of how he achieved his dream of bringing electricity, light, and the promise of a better life to his family and his village—despite financial obstacles, technical difficulties, needing to teach himself physics, and overcome local superstitions—is told in the New York Times best-seller (co-authored with Bryan Mealer), The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope. Kamkwamba shares his vision for “a new kind of Africa, a place of leaders instead of victims, a home of innovation rather than charity.” He has appeared on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CSPAN Book-TV, and NPR, and has addressed audiences at the 2008 World Economic Forum, multiple times at TED, and at schools and universities across the globe. A 2007 TED Global Fellow, he was a student in the inaugural class of the Pan-African Leadership Academy in South Africa.
Talia Leman has orchestrated the philanthropic efforts of 12 million children on four continents. At the age of 12, she raised over $10 million for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, ranking in the top three of all fundraisers, including major international organizations and corporations. She has since raised money for water projects on three continents, built schools in Cambodia, and is currently spearheading a Japan relief effort with children around the world. Through the nonprofit organization RandomKid, frequent speaking engagements, and now a new book, Leman provides tools that equip kids for life-changing philanthropic activities. A former national ambassador for UNICEF, she is a recipient of the National Jefferson Award, World of Children’s Founder’s Youth Award, regarded as the “Nobel Prize” for efforts that serve the world’s children, and the International Youth Talent Award from the European Union and the Spanish government of Extremadura.
Gaby Rodriguez (now 18 and a college student) made national headlines in 2011 as the 17-year-old high school senior from Toppenish, WA, who revealed she had faked a pregnancy for a class project—a story that became the book and Lifetime movie The Pregnancy Project. In it, she shares her experience growing up in the shadow of low expectations, reveals how she was able to fake her own pregnancy, and what she learned from the experience. Raised by a single mother, with seven brothers and sisters, Rodriguez was told growing up that she would end up a teen mother, like her own mother and older sisters had. She had other ambitions, and the question that sparked her project was: how would she be perceived if she “lived down” to others expectations about the path her life would take? She received the regional ACLU award for Youth Activist.
Leman and Rodriguez’s appearances are sponsored by Simon and Schuster; Kamkwamba’s is sponsored by Penguin Young Readers.
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