BRIDGING THE GAP: Teens can truly make a difference in this world

By Giuliana Evangelista Bridging the Gap

All around the globe, we see many inspirational men and women changing the way we see the world. People such as Oprah Winfrey, Winston Churchill and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have somehow dug their way into our history and future and have no plans of leaving.

From civil rights to social activism, they have changed the way we think and the way we act. King, for example, lead peaceful civil rights movements and taught us all that there is a path to change without violence. Children of all ages look up to these leaders and wonder how some day, when they’re older, they would like to change the world, too. Parades, newspaper articles and TV interviews have children widening their eyes in awe at these people. Thoughts come out of nowhere when they see someone they would like to be like. However, that’s the situation that needs to be changed. Many teenagers and children see their future as commencing when they’re adults, or an older age. They don’t see their potential with ever-evolving technology at their fingertips. If we examine the world around us, we can see some inspirations. Malala Yousafzai is a teenage women’s-rights activist in Pakistan. At the age of 13, she had a confrontation on a bus with three bullets almost killing her. Secretly, she posted blog posts on the BBC speaking about her experiences when she was just a youngling. Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize, speaks out against Taliban control and published her first book all at a young age. Among other achievements, she is a great inspiration to all. Alex Deans, at age 12, created the iAid. This is a navigation device to help the blind. He had the inspiration from helping a blind woman cross the street. He started to realize that there was nothing to help the blind walk around alone. We are in the 21st century, and technology to help the disabled is not being updated. Elif Bilgin, at the age of 16, created a process that turns banana peels into bioplastic. Bioplastic is a type of biodegradable plastic derived from biological substances rather than from petroleum. This would help potentially reduce petroleum-based pollution in the environment. She shares that Thailand throws away 200 tons of banana peels per day, which could be used in a better way. Bilgin won the 2013 Science in Action Award. There is a certain blockade put into place in young minds that they cannot achieve major feats at a young age — a blockade that adults have set forward for generations, without meaning to do so, that children “don’t know anything” or that “they aren’t knowledgeable.” If we begin to educate them on new world problems, and how they can have a say on fixing the problems, maybe we would have more people speaking up. The world needs more teenage inspirations to help rise up the army of children that can prove many people wrong. Teenagers have a voice, children have a voice — and it’s time they use it. It’s time they bring the world back up from their knees and give an inspiration to people of all ages. Giuliana Evangelista is a junior at Kearny High School who aspires to work in the media. She is the co-author of a published book with fellow K.H.S. junior Alyssa Lopez.

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