December 18, 2019

4 ways young people inspired us in 2019

All year long, we've written about the remarkable young people who are creating change in their communities. Here are a few of our favorite stories.

Students at Chicago's Mather High School found a way to celebrate the diversity of their classmates, through photography. Photos courtesy of WE Stories

If you’re worried about the future, you can rest easy—the kids are alright. Studies reveal that members of Gen Z, the youngest generation, care a lot about ending hunger and poverty and helping the environment. And as these young folks look to the future, they are committed to helping others.

According to a recent report from Girls with Impact, more than 60 percent of Gen Z want to use their careers to make a difference for a cause they care about. The Renewal Project featured many of these young people who are eager to give back. Here are the stories from 2019 that show young people stepping up and making a difference in their schools and communities.

They embraced diversity through artistic expression

Students at Mather High School in Chicago hail from 100 different countries, and 70 languages are spoken in the hallways. One group of students, members of the Mather WE Club decided to celebrate that diversity. So they hosted a photoshoot of their fellow students and posted the portraits across the halls of the school.

By putting those pictures up for all to see, the club hoped it would help students feel included, and show that everyone is welcome at Mather, regardless of race, religion or sexual identity. “Kids can come from two countries that are at war with each other, but at Mather they’re friends,” said We Club member Kara Smith.

They were driven to give to women in need

Clementine Chamberlain, a senior at Carmel High School in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, had an epiphany. “I had the realization that homeless students in our area may be lacking access to tampons and pads, because they are an expensive necessity,” she said.

As a member of a student organization named “This Club Saves Lives” Clementine pitched the idea of hosting an ongoing “Tampon Tuesday,” drive to collect menstrual items for homeless shelters in their community. The idea evolved into an entire campaign to end the stigma around periods. Because of this initiative, students donated over 10,000 period products to various shelters and outreach programs.

They spread the message of positivity and self-acceptance

Zeke Sumpter Ibarra was vice president of his school’s WE Club. After experiencing bullying, Ibarra helped to organize a “positivity takeover” at his school to help improve mental health and self-acceptance among his classmates.

This included creating banners and messaging promoting courage, respect, and love. Zeke was invited to appear on the national WE Day broadcast where he shared his story and encouraged others to embrace compassion and empathy.

They mentored their younger classmates

Naomi Lucas, a senior at Perspectives Charter School in Chicago, helped run a National Volunteer Week event, helping young students with assembling care packages for community members who are in need.

The experience inspired her to do more. Naomi decided to start a support and mentorship group for middle school students at her school, calling it the The 3B’s: brains, beauty, brawn. “My mission will be to help these pre-teens to develop their inner voice as their own strength while using that voice to empower others,” Naomi wrote.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.