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Tia Johnston Brown, Director for Ashoka's Youth Venture initiative, on ‘creating an “everyone a changemaker” world’

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APPLAUSE So, I'm here today to talk about how each and every one of us can take the steps to create an "everyone a changemaker" world. To get started, I thought that I would do a little exercise with you guys that I do with our young people across the world who are becoming changemakers. So, I'm going to divide this place in half. You guys are going to say "dream it", really loud. And you guys are going to say "do it". And the way we are going do this is four times: "dream it", "do it", "dream it", "do it", and then we all scream "everyone a changemaker". Are you ready? One, two, three... "Dream it!" "Do it!" "Dream it!" "Do it!" "Everyone a changemaker!" Wonderful. Thanks! You guys did pretty well! I usually have to stop people and tell them to do it over again and louder. So, I want to let you guys know that 40% of our population is made up of young people. That's 2.7 billion young people, 60% of which are right here in Asia. Youth are an extremely under-utilized resource in society, and yet they make up half of our population. So, my question to you is what are you doing to inspire these 2.7 billion young people out there? What are we doing to help them find their path in life? So, it is an absolute fundamental human need to have purpose in your life, and when young people can't find this purpose they seek out other outlets. So, they may not reach their full potential in life if they don't find this purpose. They may become complacent. They may become depressed and isolate themselves. Or they may also turn to other negative influences such as drugs or gangs, and in some countries it can also happen that these are the very groups that are terrorist cells. So what we're dealing with here, is something that's very, very serious. But not serious for the reasons that you guys might think. It's not that our youth are going in the wrong direction, it's that we are missing out on a huge opportunity to change the world. So, let's look at a few of the youth movements that happened around the world. We already know that young people are very, very powerful individuals. And the exciting part about this, is that the changemaker movement has already begun. It's been started by tens of thousands of young people. They are creating change in their communities. But now, it's up to us, each and every one of us, to help this grow. So, let me give you some examples of young people who are actually already changing their communities. Meet Ashok. At the age of 18 Ashok watched as his friends, one by one by one, began to drop out of school. And where did they end up? They were in Mumbai. They ended up on street corners gambling and drinking. Ashok couldn't handle it anymore, so he decided to have his friends who were sitting on the street corner, join him in a game of football. As a month went on they started playing football day after day after day, and he turned this into a league. And he told all of his friends that if they did not go back to school, they could no longer play in his league. Today, Ashok has helped 30 young people either stay in school or go back to school. And his program is working better than most other non-governmental organizations in Mumbai that are trying to get kids back into school. Meet Becker. At the age of 13, she was told by a five-year-old neighbor that she could not have the dream of being an astronaut because she was a girl. At this point, she realized that there needed to be a mind-shift in young girls in America. And so what did she do? She started Astrotots. It is a group that is basically a science camp for young girls to interact in a fun way, at a younger age to be exposed to science. Today, she has helped 3,000 young girls, and she's also having her program replicated outside of the US. So, what skills did Ashok and Becker gain from launching their own programs? They gained a lot of skills. They gained empathy, they gained teamwork, leadership, entrepreneurship skills... But more than any of those, they gained a belief in themselves and their ability to create change. So, what happens after this? Ashok and Becker launch their projects and they inspire other young people to do the same thing. And then what I've started to see in communities, is that you see businesses and schools and government starting to support these young people. And then beyond that, these businesses and schools also begin to create change in their own small ways within communities. This is the "everyone a change maker" community. So, let me make this more personal. What if someone told you that your son or daughter, or a young person in your life was failing at math. What would you do? You usually go and get them a tutor, or you work with them after school. But, what if all of us were told that our young people were failing at "changemaking"? If we heard that they were failing at "changemaking", that usually means that they most likely don't believe in themselves as much as they could. They haven't mastered the skills of empathy and teamwork and leadership; and the truth is we have a society and a workforce that's demanding that young people have these skills of thinking entrepreneurially and socially. And yet we're not giving these skills to them. So, I'd like to call on each and every one of you today to think about the young person or young people in your life, that you can go out to and help become a "changemaker" today. Here are the steps you can take. First, help the young person identify a passion that they have. This could be absolutely anything, so don't be judgmental about it. Second, help them identify a problem that they see in the community; and then help them link those two to come up with an idea. So, you have Ashok who really enjoyed soccer, and he had the problem that his friends weren't in school. And then finally, make sure that they build a team around them. "Changemaking" is all about teamwork. You can't be successful unless you can convince other people of your vision and bring them all along with you. So, overall, if each and every one of us can begin to take the steps to help grow this movement, I guarantee that we are going to see a brighter Japan, a brighter New Dehli, a brighter Rio, and overall, we are going to get to the point of an "everyone a changemaker" world. Thank you. APPLAUSE

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 26 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Producer: Virgin Earth & Ansur Pictures
Director: Andrew Malana
Views: 1,235
Posted by: tedxvideo on Dec 3, 2009

A talk given in Session 1 "How Can We Organize Ourselves To Make A Difference?" of TEDxTokyo 2009, held on May 22 at National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

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