From Davos 2020 to the Grammys, The Power of Teens and This New Generation is Inspiring
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
It was a big night for pop music’s new generation of innovators last Sunday at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards. Billie Eilish, age 18, took five of the top wins including Best New Artist, Record of the Year for “Bad Guy” and Album of the Year. Her 22-year old brother, Finneas, who co-wrote, produced and engineered the album in their Los Angeles home no less, won six honors for his musical production.
Lizzo won three Grammys from her eight nominations, including Best Pop Solo Performance. Age 31 now, she was 26 when Time Magazine named her a music artist to watch.
Lil Nas X of “Old Town Road” fame is 26 and a self-taught artist. He won two Grammy awards for Best Music Video and Best Duo/Group Performance. His Grammy performance of “Old Time Road” included 13-year old Mason Ramsey who gained his popularity by yodeling at a Wal Mart.
Tyler, the Creator, age 28, won Best Rap Album for “Igor”, and the performance of Tylor in his white, bowl-cut wig where he performed several hip-hop and electro hits has been tagged as one of the Grammy’s best performances.
And 27-year old Rosalía won Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album for “El Mal Querer.” She was the first Spanish female artist to perform at the Grammys.
These artists are pretty inspirational for any teen who has dreams of success in their life. Big or small, everyone needs inspiration.
Then there were the teens at the recent 2020 Davos World Economic Forum. Greta Thunberg may be given the headlines, but there are a team of teens who are also making a difference in the world. Their spirit and drive are impressive.
• Autumn Peltier, age 15, has been a water warrior since age 8. She represents 40 First Nations in Ontario, many of whom lack clean drinking water and speaks internationally about water rights.
• Ayakha Melithafa, 17-years old, is from Cape Town, South Africa. She mobilizes support for low-carbon development and a just energy transition in her country.
• Cruz Erdmann, age 14, works to save oceans by photographing them. He was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year by London’s Natural History Museum.
• Fionn Ferreira, who is 18, invented a new method of extracting microplastics from water using ferrofluid, a liquid developed by NASA. Ferreira won the 2019 Google Science Fair for his methodology to remove microplastics from water.
• Melati Wijsen, age 19, founded “Bye Bye Plastic Bags” with her younger sister to organize petitions, awareness-raising campaigns and massive beach clean-ups. Wijsen and her sister were part of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Teens and CNN’s Young Wonders in 2018.
• Mohamad Al Jounde, 18-years old and a refugee from Lebanon, was 12 when he built a school in a refugee camp where 200 children now access their right to an education. Al Jounde was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2017 and MTV’s Generation Change Award in 2018.
• Naomi Wadler, all of 13-years, has a mission is to empower African American girls. Through her activism, she inspires people to join her efforts to remember school shootings and the many African American girls lost to gun violence.
• Natasha Mwansa, age 18, advocates for the health and well-being of young people, particularly against child marriage. She was selected to be part of the African Union Commission’s Youth Advisory Board and became the youngest recipient of the World Health Organization’s Global Health Leaders Award.
• Salvador Gómez-Colón, 17-years old, created a campaign to distribute solar-powered lamps, hand-powered washing machines and other supplies to more than 3,100 families on Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria. He was named one of TIME Magazine’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017 and received the President’s Environmental Youth Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Diana Award for social humanitarian work in 2019.
• Then there’s Greta Thunberg who is now 17 but started her activism for climate change when she was eight. From school strike in Sweden to Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019, she has taken a leadership position beyond any adult to influence climate change habits of the world.
It’s a star-studded list of teens and those a little older who have made an impact for something they believe in and love. Most were not part of a privileged class. They were motivated by their desire to be their best and do their best. Desire, talent, luck and circumstances all played a part, but mostly they believed in themselves and their mission. And they are making it happen. “Duh,” as Billie Eilish would say.
The ACE Spectrum Blog will be sharing stories of those who have been making it happen in ACE Learning Centers. Stay tuned to see their power and be inspired by our local teens and teachers.