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Young Activists Making the World a Better Place

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Now more than ever, girls are changing the world in big and small ways. Speaking up and making a difference is a great way for young people to feel empowered, even while scary events happen in the world around them. Read about these real girls who are making the world a better place.

Gitanjali R. saw a problem and built something to help fix it.

When eleven-year-old Gitanjali found out that thousands of people in Flint, Michigan were drinking water contaminated with lead, even though city officials had told them it was safe, she was determined to help.

“Water is a valuable resource,” she says. “It was shocking to see how many people, including kids my age, were affected by this huge, huge problem.” She researched the topic. Then she came up with an idea to create an inexpensive and easy-to-use water testing device.

She brainstormed designs, drawing her device on paper. Then she built a model with cardboard. She worked in a room at her house that is devoted to homework and science projects.

Gitanjali entered her idea in a contest for young scientists. As one of ten finalists, she worked with a mentor to transform her idea into a working device, which won the contest.

Girl reading Joss Book

Sarah Q. is changing the world right from her home.

Sarah and her little brother, Liam, love animals. “That’s why we’re so close,” she says. Together, they play with their dog, Cooper. Liam also likes to help squirt Sarah’s horse, Monkey, with a hose.

“He laughs a lot when the animals are around,” Sarah says. Recently, the thirteen-year-old worked at a summer camp that pairs therapy animals and kids who have disabilities, like Liam, who has Down syndrome. Therapy animals often provide comfort to kids with disabilities. “Petting, brushing, and leading an animal around makes Liam feel good,” she says.

Sarah loved the camp so much that she started researching therapy animals so she could train her own. She saved more than $1,000 by babysitting and working at the camp. Then she convinced her parents to bring home a special miniature donkey.

“As soon as I saw Jupiter, I knew he was the one,” she recalls. “He was so cute and gentle.” Now Sarah is training Jupiter to do tasks he’ll need to perform as a therapy animal, like wearing a halter, standing quietly for brushing, and ignoring noise.

“Sometimes he’s stubborn—he is a donkey, after all. But he’s so sweet and gentle,” Sarah says. “He loves it when the kids rub his ears.”

Naja and Suri S. helped after a disaster.

After ten-year-old Naja and her eight-year-old sister Suri heard about the destruction in the Bahamas after a hurricane, they wanted to help, especially because their great-grandma lives there. The violent storm had ripped homes apart, including blowing the roof off their great-grandmother’s house. “I felt scared because we didn’t know if Grammy was OK,” Naja says. Their great-grandma was OK, but the girls wanted to help others who weren’t.

The two sisters got busy helping long-distance. They emptied their piggy banks to help buy bottled water and tarps. After the supplies were delivered to the island, the girls continued to help.

Naja raised money to buy blankets. Suri held a toy drive at school. Their older brother collected clothes. Over the holidays, their family drove to Florida and then took a boat to the island. They delivered six crates of toys, 100 blankets, and 60 boxes of clothes and other supplies. Naja enjoyed handing out the donated items to island residents. “It was nice to see them smile,” she says.

Suri says she loved helping with her family. “All the kids’ toys were destroyed, and Christmas was coming,” she says. “I’m only eight years old and I felt like I made a big difference.”

For more ideas about how your girl can make a difference in the world, check out A Smart Girl’s Guide: Making a Difference written by Melissa Seymour and illustrated by Stevie Lewis. ©2020 American Girl.
©2020 American Girl. All American Girl marks are trademarks of American Girl.

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