Blerina Ago firmly believes that the power of education is one of the most powerful tools the world has to offer but is also a tool that is not equally accessible to all. With this, Blerina founded Backpacks for Brainiacs, a non-profit organization aimed towards helping provide children in need with the basic necessities they need to succeed in school. To date, her incredible cause has supported 3 charities and delivered over 100 backpacks and school supplies to those in need.
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According to “Affinity Numerology” the number 24 represents strength, compassion and long-term security. 3 words that perfectly sum up what the past 24 episodes of Starts with Y have felt like.
This platform has become an outlet that continues to instill a sense of hope within us that the world is in good hands as the next generation of youth are made up of strong and compassionate leaders who are already fighting for meaningful change and long-term security to ensure our world is one that is inclusive, kind, safe and peaceful.
We hope you enjoy this "Season Finale" blooper reel episode as much as we do! See you all back for more laughs, incredible new “Y” words and even MORE stories of remarkable change-makers for Season 2 of Starts with Y.
Vivian and her sister May founded Linens N Love when they were only 12 and 14 years old. Their award-winning nonprofit organization collects pillows, bed sheets, towels and blankets from franchise hotels that would have otherwise been thrown out because of the smallest imperfections. With this, Linens N Love's mission is to donate and re purpose 100,000 linens to charities and shelters in need including animal shelters, homeless shelters, teen outreach centers and much more. They hope to create a world that minimizes the amount of waste that goes to landfills, all while promoting the importance of student leadership and community service among youth and providing warmth to individuals around the world.
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Emmanuela Shinta is the CEO of the Renu Velum Foundation. She is a Dayak leader, activist, filmmaker and writer whose work is widely known in Asia Pacific. With a reputation of leading and empowering young people, she regularly speaks at workshops, graduations, panel discussions, activist forums and even in churches, around the region. She created Ranu Welum in hopes of empowering indigenous Dayak youth to learn to better self-express whilst gaining a better understanding of who they through incredible teachings from their ancestors and elders.
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Jana Amin is an Egyptian-American high school student who founded the initiative “ Bantoota” (Arabic for a girl), focused on amplifying the voices of young Muslim women through storytelling. Jana has a passion for international relations and Middle Eastern studies, with a special interest in gender studies and Islam. This drive within her led her to plan her 17th birthday party initiative known as #17for17, focused on advancing girls' education by leading a conference with 17 incredible advocates and leaders passionate about the topic of women empowerment.
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At 12 years of age Molly Pinta had a dream of bringing a Pride Parade to her hometown. With the help of her parents, her dream came to life as over 2,000 people attended the the first-ever gay pride parade in the northwest suburb. The family was able to raise over $55,000 for the cause and the parade itself was supported by 50 sponsors and 90 local groups, organizations and politicians. Their continuous hard work has also cultivated a great deal of community awareness around teen sexuality and continues to connect thousands of people on their BGPride Facebook page, creating a support network for both teens and their parents to consult at the time of coming out and beyond.
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High school students Nakshh and Apoorvi created The Happiness Project in hopes of implementing mental health programming in government and aided schools across India. By conducting surveys, connecting with psychologists and training educators, the organization creates customized workshops for each school based on what is most needed to support the student body. Their goal is to ensure mental health no longer remains a taboo subject throughout the education system in India and hope they are able to support youth on their journey to live happier lives.
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Kyle's "why moment" was sparked at 13 years of age, when he attended the 2006 FIFA World Cup with his family. After connecting with Angolan fans during the Angola and Iran game, he learned about the way the country used soccer as a means of instilling peace, hope and unity. It was for this reason that Kyle founded FundaField, a non-profit organization founded by students dedicated to enrich the lives of less fortunate youth through the game of soccer. Their underlying message is that "if they don't play together, they won't score goals.". To date, the organization has funded and built 11 fields, held over 15 tournaments and are continuously donating sports equipment to these communities.
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15-year-old Marie is an incredible anti-bullying advocate and is also the UAE Representative for "GirlUp Arab World". Marie's difficult experiences with bullying led her to partake in the “Think Twice and Type Wise” initiative at her school that is intended to create a safe community and end bullying. Marie bravely decided to use this initiative to upload an honest video of her bullying experience. Her powerful video has become a beacon of light to many who are experiencing similar hardships. Marie continues to promote peace with her community and is working hard to empower youth to speak out and stand up against bullying.
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The story of the youth-founded organization, Seedlings, began when 16-year-old Esther was educating herself on plastic reduction, the impacts of carbon emissions on our planet and the process of seed sharing. It is for this reason that Esther and Kathy created Seedlings, a non-profit organization focused on bettering the planet we live on through a variety of educational programming. Their “Seed Library Program” allows the public to donate seeds, pick up free seeds to grow learn about the importance of planting your own seeds to better the environment... all through hand-made wooden boxes placed around the city of Toronto!
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17-year-old Jonas still remembers his first time volunteering at Skid Row at only 4-years-old and seeing a young person his age waiting in line to receive a warm meal. It was in this moment that Jonas realized that homelessness was an issue he wanted to learn more about. At 6-years-old he founded "Love in The Mirror”, a non-profit organization focused on supporting disadvantaged youth through clothing and food drives as well as volunteering in communities and homeless shelters. Jonas's hard word has been recognized through various awards, including the Nickelodeon HALO Award Honoree and his organization continues to supports thousands of people, whilst inspiring youth across the globe that you are never too young to make meaningful impact.
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Rochelle is co-founder of SPARK Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers educational services focused on mentorship, entrepreneurship and service-learning. This idea came to Rochelle 7 years ago, after realizing the dire need for workshops, camps and educational resources geared towards supporting change-making youth interested in making impacts but needing the resources and support to get their incredible ideas going. Rochelle's dedication to supporting youth within her community has been widely recognized, as she has been named "Top 25 Under 25 by the Surrey Board of Trade", she was nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction award and was awarded the Governor General Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.
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Following the outbreak of the pandemic, university students Jack, Alex and Nathan returned to their hometowns eager to find ways to support their local communities. They created The Basket Project in hopes of providing relief and protection from the virus to those experiencing homelessness. They do this by handing out baskets containing sanitary essentials such as gloves, sanitary wipes and masks whilst also asking the general public to continue to support their cause by donating, providing in kind donations and spreading the word about this remarkable cause.
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19-year-old Whytli is the co-founder of the non-profit organization “End the Stigma”. The organization promote the notion that mental health should be an ongoing conversation and they aim to provide helpful resources to those struggling with their mental health. From their #NoFilterStory campaign that allows youth to comfortably listen to and/or share their own mental health stories, to well-being tools as well as support groups with an in-house therapist. Whytli has also created her own podcast “In the Wake” as a means of advocating for those suffering with mental illness as well as moving the conversation of mental health and well-being forward.
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From empowering disadvantaged youth in Nigeria, advocating against child marriage, promoting the idea of equality, and much more. Wadi Ben-Hirki founded her non-profit organization at only 18-years-old. As a youth advocate and a role model, Wadi continues to inspire youth in Nigeria to set and accomplish their goals and become the best version of themselves. Her message has spread across the world as she has been honoured with several national and international awards. She continues to inspire youth worldwide to treat one another with compassion and kindness in order to create a just and peaceful world.
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In light of what is happening in the world and the pandemic has had on access to education, best friends, Rachel, Alyssa, Jackie and Destiny created “Better as One” to shed light on the importance of supporting vulnerable learners during this time. Alyssa and Rachel join us to speak to the way they have been using their time at home to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by fundraising for Personal Protective Equipment and educational resources whilst educating their own communities on ways to support this incredibly important cause.
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As soon as 11-year-old Rachel was introduced to the world of Genetically Modified Organisms, she knew she had to take action and inform youth about their rights to make environmentally sound choices. Today, 20 year old Rachel continues to fight for our right to know what’s in our food. She founded Kids Right to Know, a non-profit organization dedicated to support youth claim their right to know what is in their food. She launched her "Just Label It!" campaign in hopes of advocating for the labeling of GMO foods, as without labels, we don’t have the freedom of choice to decide what we eat.
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17-year-old Ivan is passionate about amplifying the voice of young people. He continues to do so by bringing light to causes such as: gun violence, youth experiencing homelessness, environmental issues and much more. Ivan is a member of the Oakland Youth Advisory Committee and played a key role in the March for Our Lives Oakland rally. His remarkable story showcases the power of youth coming together, raising their voice and fighting for a better tomorrow.
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Following the 2017 Women’s March, 15 year old Alara knew she wanted to continue to raise her voice to support women's rights. Alongside her friends, Lara, Jordan and Laura, She Clothing Co was created to empower women to “wear feminism on their sleeve” and speak out against inequality by understanding their rights. 100% of their proceeds support charities that are dedicated to empowering young women across the globe.
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At only 7 years old, Savanna had a passion to educate and empower individuals and communities live happy and healthy lifestyles. After years of determination and hard work, 14 year old Savanna is not only an accomplished author and speaker but she is also the CEO of Happy Heart Advices, an organization focused on educating youth on the functions of the heart while getting them involved in fun, heart-pumping activities.
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At 11 years old, Stella began asking her family why they were unable to swim the LaHave River. She learnt about the high levels of fecal bacteria in the river and decided she needed to take action. Now at 16 years old, Stella’s journey has led her to not only being recognized and honoured through several awards and nation-wide media coverage, but she also received 15.7-million-dollars to support homeowners get new septic tanks.
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Imagine being forced to leave your home. Imagine being forced to leave some of your favourite books and toys behind and saying goodbye to friends and family in short notice. Imagine taking one last look at the home you grew up in and wondering if you will ever see it again. This was the reality for Sedra and Shahd, who join us to speak their own experiences fleeing Syria to seek refuge and safety in Canada. Sedra and Shahd are passionate about supporting those still living in refugee camps in Syria. They started an initiative called "Elegant Art" in which 100% of the proceeds from their art sales are donated support families living in refugee camps in Syria.
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Aiza never imagined that a dream created in her grade 10 civics class, would turn into such an impactful reality. To date the "Aiza Teddy Bear Foundation" has distributed 100,000 stuffed toys along with school supplies and clothing donations. Her non-profit organization continues support those in need by opening doors and paving paths towards healthier, safer, and economically stable lives... one Teddy Bear at a time!
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Paul joins us this week to share the "WHY" behind Water for Water, a non -profit organization he started when he was just 17 years old. Water for Water is committed to bringing clean water to developing communities, as well as shifting the narrative around bottled water towards one of recycling and sustainability.
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Zein and Lauren share the "WHY" behind creating a podcast, their personal "WHY's" and share sneak peaks of some of the remarkable stories that will be shared on this podcast.
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