Recommended

A teen took the stage with world leaders and unflinchingly spoke truth to power. YES, GIRL.

Four heads of state interrupted Natasha Mwansa's 4-minute speech to give her a standing ovation.

A teen took the stage with world leaders and unflinchingly spoke truth to power. YES, GIRL.

Watch out world. The young women have arrived, and they're taking the reins.

From Greta Thunberg to Emma Gonzales to Malala Yousafzai, young women are taking the microphone, organizing movements, and demanding the world's attention on major issues. And it appears they are just getting started.

Imagine you're 18 years old, preparing to go to college, and being invited to join a panel in the opening session of a huge international conference. Imagine that panel includes four current heads of state, and you'll be speaking before an audience of thousands of people from around the globe.

Now imagine standing up on that stage and telling those world leaders to their faces, in no uncertain terms, that they need to step up their game. No pussyfooting. No apologies.


Meet the latest young woman shaking the tree and speaking truth to power.

Natasha Wang Mwansa brought the house down with a 4-minute speech at the opening of Women Deliver 2019 on June 3rd.

Mwansa is an 18-year-old from Zambia, whose confidence appears to know no bounds and whose ability to articulate her thoughts without so much as a pause is awe-inspiring. She took the stage in the Vancouver Convention Centre with four world leaders—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, President Sahle-Work Zwede of Ethiopia, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya—and waited for her turn to speak.

When the time came, she gave the world leaders the what for—not in a disrespectful way, but with a frank and honest assessment of how they need to include young people in their policy decisions.

"One thing that really has to be emphasized," she began, "is that nothing is going to be done for us without us, because that's just doing it against us."

She paused to ask, "Can I stand? I feel more powerful when I stand." Then she stood in her power and wowed everyone. Rarely pausing for a breath, much less an "Um" or an "Uh," Mwansa laid down the hammer in the most eloquent way.

Less than two minutes into her speech, all four heads of state gave her a standing ovation, along with the rest of the crowd.

Mwansa told world leaders that we need more young people in positions of power, that they aren't just going to be helpless beneficiaries anymore. She also pointed out that gender equality and female empowerment can't just be something leaders pay lip service to—it has to be reflected in national priorities and budgets.

Then she really got going.

"I hate that we call these things 'child marriages.' That's pedophilia! It's inhumane!" she said. "These things have to be worked on and they have to be fought. We can't have girls be married off. We can't have girls not accessing education. We can't have girls not being able to take care of themselves every time of the month because of stereotypical behavior. No. We need gender equality and we need it to be reflected in national priorities."

Cheers from the crowd and the panel morphed into a standing ovation at that point. But Mwansa still had more to say. We need to build capacity in young people to empower them to have a say in decisions that affect them, she said. She pointed out that leaders need to be held accountable for their promises, to bridge the gap between what young people want and what governments provide, between what is promised and what is actually done.

"Politicians can talk, guys," she said. "But action? No. We need to hold them accountable."

There's more, but I can't do it justice. Mark my words, this girl will be a head of state herself one day. Just watch, and be prepared to want to stand and cheer yourself.


Natasha Mwansa Q&A during panel discussion of Women Deliver 2019 www.youtube.com

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."