How Lack of Recognition for Holidays Impacts Teens in School

By Sasha Kats, Ambassador of the Co Lab's Mental Health Hub

Every school celebrates different holidays. Some of the more common ones, such as Christmas, Easter, New Years, Thanksgiving, and Labor day, are celebrated in all schools. But, do you notice a trend here? THERE IS NO DIVERSITY!! Where are holidays such as Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah?  For Jewish kids in school, a holiday like Yom Kippur is very hard. Yom Kippur is supposed to be a day of reflection, where you don’t eat from sundown one day to sundown the next night. It is very hard for students to abide by this because, well if you are in school all day, not eating or drinking is hard, not to mention that you can’t perform the main purpose of the holiday if you are focused on school the whole day.

Many schools don't even celebrate holidays such as Columbus day or Veteran’s Day. While not celebrating or not giving days off for these holidays is a problem in itself, schools also don’t teach kids what these holidays are. Without educating students on different holidays there is not much hope that schools will give days off on these holidays.

Part of the reason there aren’t days off is because schools cater to the majority. For the majority of students, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter are the main holidays that they celebrate, which is why many schools don’t have days off for other holidays. All of this can cause distress and mental health issues, such as feeling like you don’t matter or the things you care about don’t matter, or feeling excluded and feeling like you’re in the wrong for following a certain religion or participating in its holidays. It can cause a lot of stress for students around the holiday season especially if they take a day off of school for a holiday. Taking days off of school so close to midterms can cause a lot of anxiety and stress with all of the makeup work and feeling behind.

My hope is that in the future there will be more awareness for some of these holidays in schools across the country, and for kids to feel comfortable celebrating their religion.  Join our teen-led mental health hub at the Co Lab to express your views!


Teens Connecting for Change: Smithsonian Folklife Festival

By Co Lab Climate Hub Teens:  Carolina Jones, Moira Nolan, and Erika Harrington

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival was an incredible opportunity for us to finally connect off-screen and build connections!  Our Co Lab teens gathered together from all over the United States - traveling from California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia. The Co Lab hubs meet weekly (virtually) so this was the first time many of them have been able to meet in-person since the start of the COVID pandemic. It was a great way for the team to bond while taking action.

“I was so excited to get to participate in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Because I live in North Carolina, I could only attend the festival for one day, but it was an incredible experience. I got to meet other Hub teens in person that I’ve only ever interacted with online.  We had so much fun together! We danced around the festival wearing trashion show outfits and discussed our favorite topics - climate change, wildlife conservation, racial justice, and more. The group of people that I got to hang out with in person at the festival still keep in touch and we make time to hang out on a non SDG Hub basis.” - Carolina Jones, Climate Action Hub Ambassador

The Folklife Festival provided the opportunity to not only see each other but also connect with new like-minded individuals. We had two new recruits for the Climate Hub as a direct result of the festival, Erika and Moira. The group has really enjoyed getting to know them and spending time together in our weekly Hub meetings on climate change. The more people that join the Hub, the more projects we can work on and the more perspectives we can share. 

“I am so grateful for the Folklife Festival because I was able to learn more about different actions for climate change, I also got to meet people who I have only previously interacted with through a screen, and my Hub got a boost of new members - new passionate people with dreams and projects that we can work on together!” - Carolina Jones

It was also awesome to hear the stories of how the new members discovered the Co Lab! 

“I found out about this Hub while on vacation with my family at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I remember accidentally coming upon this festival while on the search for something to eat. I remember walking around the stands with my bag of free stickers and an oversized water bottle, feeling sweaty and tired as we had already walked ten miles that day. It was my brother who found the SDGs stand, he was planting some sort of flower that did not survive the journey home. I remember asking one of the girls working this stand about the organization. She told me about the different Hubs, and that it is run by teens. I wanted to do something to take action against climate change, and that day I was given the opportunity.” Moira Nolan, New Climate Hub Member

“I was at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival out of support for my old school participating in the Smithsonian Folklife FoodWays. While I was walking around before it began, I first noticed the sign and table saying “Grow your Own Bean” as a demonstration from the Zero Hunger Hub. I came home with a decomposable pot and two bean seeds, and I was able to watch the bean grow. After potting my bean, I got talking with Linda and some of the teens apart from each Hub and was really interested in their message and goal. I loved meeting and learning from new people in different areas of the state and in other states.” -  Erika Harrington, Climate Hub Member

Overall, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival exceeded our expectations! From connecting with new people, educating others and planting seeds for the future - it was very successful!

Stressful Summers

By Sasha Kats, Ambassador of the Mental Health Hub

Summer can be one of the most stressful times of the year for teens. Whether it is the pressure of feeling like they have to hang out with people, the schoolwork they have to do over the summer, starting a new job or even their first job, or just finding a balance between hanging out with people and doing work. Many teens dread the summer hangouts, boat rides, sitting by the pool/beach, and just the fact that everyone is out and about. Teens who have trouble being productive, like myself, stress about how they are going to finish their summer schoolwork in time, while also maintaining a social life. Every teen has their stress during the summer, and I feel that the best way to get rid of stress is by finding a little time every day to do something that you want to do. That can be riding a bike, sitting and reading a book, or even (this one is my personal favorite) watching cartoons with one of your pets.  I hope you have found some ways to destress over this summer as we head into the Fall!  Join teens working globally on mental health issues in our Mental Health Hub!

Teens from Colorado and UAE Address Racial Justice, featured at Smithsonian FLF

By Akshat Sinha, Founder and Teen Co-Ambassador of Racial Justice Hub

I'm delighted that the Co-Lab is engaging with this year's Smithsonian Folk Life Festival which focuses on earth optimism and this year features the United Arab Emirates or UAE.  My co-Ambassador of the Racial Justice Hub Emma Casini was able to fly in from Colorado to participate and was featured in the final event with youth from the UAE, per the photo above.  I am her Co Ambassador and I live in the UAE.      

Living in the UAE for the past 6 years has exposed me to a variety of cultures and identities which showed me the importance of global citizenship regardless of age. There has always been a certain emphasis on educating students about the Sustainable Development Goals at school in order to promote the notion of global action as well as individual responsibility. I believe that this emphasis is what allows more youth to become global changemakers. The initial outbreak of the pandemic led to a wave of lockdowns and isolation around the world. This caused me to look for a new project that I could put my time and energy into and contribute to virtually.

Around July 2020, I joined the Global Co Lab because I appreciated the idea of people from around the world coming together to engage in different SDG-related hubs and on several different issues. I founded the Racial Justice Hub with a specific focus on SDGs 8 and 16. The aim of the hub was to raise awareness, educate youth and work towards making changes at all levels of society to promote racial equity. It was great to work with other teenagers in the hub since they all had their own experiences and perspectives with this topic. It also gave me the opportunity to further explore some of my own personal interests in this field such as the prevalence of institutional discrimination in government systems around the world.

One of our key projects was the creation of the implicit bias workshop which specifically focused on institutional discrimination. The initial idea was to research and design a workshop on recognizing, understanding, and targeting implicit biases in youth in order to reduce the long-term effect of these malleable mental constructs. While there were many workshops designed for HR professionals, We decided to start from scratch to design an interactive and engaging workshop specifically for teenagers by incorporating virtual platforms in addition to having brief sections for different aspects of implicit bias in the workshop. The research for this project incorporated academic sources as well as discussions with professionals in the field to ensure that the material is effective and accurate.

Here is a link to view a condensed version of the workshop:  Implicit Bias Workshop

I am really excited that the Co Lab is participating in the Folklife Festival. I believe that one of the best ways to foster changemakers is to actually engage the youth in the issues that surround them so that they can play an active role as Global Citizens. Teens interested in engaging with global issues can also join the Global Co Lab Network by emailing and take part in one of its twelve teen-led hubs focused on the SDGs. 


Join Teens Educating on Mental Health Action Day!

By Lauren Bigley, Member of Co-Lab Mental Health Hub

Thursday, May 19, 2022, marked the second annual Mental Health Action Day! MTV Entertainment Group and Mental Health Is Health, as well as various partners, are working together to spread awareness for mental health - but more than that, to shift from awareness to taking action. Here at the Global Co-Lab, we couldn’t be more excited!

What is Mental Health Action Day?

The first Mental Health Action Day was on May 20, 2021. According to the Mental Health Action Network, more than 1,400 nonprofit organizations, brands, government agencies, and leaders from 32 countries around the world participated in spreading the word. The purpose is to spread the word that people can take action to protect their mental health, just like they can protect their physical health. This year, it’s even bigger and better! 

How can I take part in Mental Health Action Day this year?

Though we all come together to raise awareness of mental health in the month of May, caring for your mental health is something you can do all year long. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Action Day is Connection, so take some time to connect with yourself and those who are most important to you. Every day is a good day to care for your mental health! No action is too small, and even if not every action works for you, it’s important to make an effort. Try meditating, breathing exercises, going for a short walk in nature, journaling, spending time with a pet or a family member, talking with someone you trust about what’s really going on in your mind, or listening to your favorite music. 

Check-in on your friends too – even when people look like they have it all together from the outside (and especially from social media!) most everyone is struggling with something, and a kind word of support can mean the world. 

Most of us are already on board with mental health awareness, but we really struggle to do something about it. Now’s your chance to take the next step and show that you truly care for mental health just as much as physical health!

Encourage teens globally to join our teen-led Mental Health Hub!  We meet weekly to educate and fight stigma.  Email us at


By Spanish Speaking Hub Member Paula Lladós Casalprim

Todos sabemos que es el plástico y lo malo que es, ¿pero nos hemos planteado nunca el daño que nos puede llegar a hacer?. Seguramente mucha gente no tiene idea de lo malo que puede llegar a ser para el medio ambiente y para uno mismo.

We all know what plastic is and how bad it is, but have we ever considered the damage it can do to us? Many people have no idea how bad it can be for the environment and for themselves.

El plástico es uno de los materiales más abundantes en el planeta, ya que es muy fácil y barato de producir, pero a la hora de degradarse, tarda miles de años, siendo exactos entre 100 y 1000. Uno de los impactos más preocupantes del plástico se da a nivel mundial, siendo este la contaminación de mares y océanos. Hay tanto acumulado que se han llegado a formar islas de plástico. Las islas de residuos son gigantes agrupaciones de plásticos en los océanos. Desde lejos se puede observar una mancha enorme en la superficie del agua, pero de cerca se puede comprobar cada bolsa, envase o pieza de plástica que la forman. En el caso de los animales estos se pueden enredar con los plásticos o resultar heridos y en algunas ocasiones pueden acabar muriendo, por lo que se produce una pérdida de biodiversidad importante. De ahí viene la importancia de concienciar a la sociedad de que es indispensable hacer un uso correcto.

Plastic is one of the most abundant materials on the planet since it is very easy and cheap to produce, but when it comes to degrading, it takes thousands of years, between 100 and 1000. One of the most worrying impacts of plastic that occurs worldwide is the pollution of seas and oceans. There is so much accumulated that plastic islands have formed. Waste islands are giant pools of plastic in the oceans. From far you can see a huge stain on the surface of the water, but if you go near you can see every bag, container, or piece of plastic. In the case of animals, they can get trapped in plastics or be injured and on some occasions, they can end up dying, which is why there is a significant loss of biodiversity. Is for this reason that we are talking about the importance of making society aware of it. This is essential to make a better world.

¿Y qué es un uso correcto? Un uso correcto del plástico, es intentar evitarlos al máximo, es decir “prohibir” el plástico en tu vida. Hacer esto es muy difícil, porque casi todos los productos llevan, por eso una buena solución es que cuando vayamos a comprar comida, intentemos coger el mínimo de productos que contengan plástico. Cuando sea inevitable impedirlo y tengamos que usarlo, podemos hacerlo de una manera más responsable y consciente. Una de las maneras es reutilizarlo haciendo un comedero para pájaros, auto regadero para el huerto, lapiceros, vasos, macetas…

And what is the correct use? The correct use of plastic is to try to avoid them as much

as possible, that is to say, “ban” plastic in your life. Doing this is very difficult because almost all products have them, so a good solution is that when we go to buy some food, we try to take as few products as possible that contain plastic. When it is impossible to prevent it and we have to use it, we can do it in a more responsible and conscious way. One of the ways is to reuse it by making a bird feeder, a self-watering system for the garden, glasses, pots, storage boxes, plant pots, kitchen storage, watering can...

Es evidente que los plásticos están siempre presentes en nuestras vidas, pero si cada una de las personas hace un gesto, aunque sea pequeño, podremos hacer que el mundo vuelva a ser como antes de la revolución del plástico.

It is clear that plastics are always present in our lives, but if each person takes the plastic problem into consideration, even a small one, we can make the world go back to the way it was before the plastic revolution.

¡Únete al Hub de Hispanohablantes y haz la diferencia!

Join the Hub de Hispanohablantes and make a difference!




Winner of Teens Dream Video Challenge Publishes Book on Climate Change!

My name is Grace Comerford and I am a 16-year-old from California.  I was a winner of the Co Lab's 2020 Teens Dream Global Changemaker Video Competition and was able to use the $500 grant money to make my dream of addressing one of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality.

On January 2nd, 2022, I published Perry and Friends, a children’s book about global warming.  After winning the competition I was introduced to an amazing network of teens who are willing to help out with any idea you have. It’s an incredible group of supporters that I believe any teen who dreams of making a change should join. I am now the head of the SDG Arts Hub, and a member of the climate hub and wildlife conservation hub. Additionally, I am leading a project to have the CoLab publish a digital book on the SDGs written by teens from the Hubs!  I recommend anyone coming upon the CoLab from the video competition or any other way, to join the hubs! They have been such a supportive group with lots of opportunities for leadership.

Book Description:

Our Earth is in danger. We are at a critical turning point where we can choose our future. The youngest generation will have to be the next problem solvers and help save the world. It's a pretty big task, but we know they can do it.  Perry and Friends is an educational, story-based children's book that introduces the topic of global warming to elementary school-aged youth. Author Grace Comerford, a teenage climate advocate, takes readers through a captivating story where Perry the Penguin and his friends slowly realize the dangers of global warming. But, this is not a sob story. This story introduces the topic of global warming in a way that doesn't make kids fear the future, but be excited to help!

Buy Here: 

Perry and Friends - Kindle edition by Comerford, Grace. Children's Kindle eBooks @

My Website:

Books | Dream Green (


Teens Teach Teens How to Publish Digital Books!

     On Sunday, September 5, teens from the Global Co Lab Network hosted a self-publishing workshop, teaching teens from around the world how to self-publish their own works of writing. A teen member of the SDG Hubs and winner of the Teens Dream Video Competition, Grace Comeford, presented and led the workshop. Grace Comerford has published three of her own books. She is currently writing a book about climate change to educate young children about caring for their environment and to promote climate action in youth. You can learn about her and her books on her website

     At the workshop, participants learned about different options for self-publishing including formatting, distributors, target audience, and art. The workshop gave teens a basic understanding of how to publish their own books, and the decision-making involved in the process. One teen said of the workshop, “...we learned a lot from Grace and her story is inspiring. This information will help me on my book publishing journey.” 

Teens at the workshop were also able to discuss a future project for the Co-Lab that many are excited about: a book about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This book will be a collaboration between all the Hubs that every member can take part in. One teen leader said of the book, “I think that this project will be an incredible opportunity for everyone who participates in it, and I can’t wait to get started!” 

The Arts Hub has volunteered to create illustrations and manage the design of the future book, and each Hub has eagerly accepted the opportunity to create a section of the book about their corresponding Sustainable Development Goal.

Grace, the teen that led the workshop said, “My favorite part of the workshop was definitely talking to people in the Q and A. Everyone had such great ideas and we were able to talk about our dreams and goals for the SDG book project. Thank you to everyone who came or anyone interested in the project!”

The teens behind this workshop really enjoyed being a part of it and are excited to get started on a bigger project that everyone can take part in. The workshop was a huge success, and we hope to hold another one in the future.

If you missed the workshop, don’t worry! You can watch a recording of it here.  If you want to join our Hubs and be part of this cool activity and other efforts please email us at! 

Applying to College 101

Applying to College 101:  Where Should I Commit To? 

By Bushra and Amara Mir, Ambassadors of the Co Lab's Education Hub

Welcome to the third part of the applying to college 101 series! For a refresher, here’s part 1 (choosing where to apply), and here’s part 2 (the application process).   Now that you have already been accepted to universities, comes the difficult decision of picking between them.

If you were accepted to a university, great job! If you like that university and are happy to and able to attend, send in your deposit, and also keep reading for more information on everything you’ll have to do.

If you were not accepted to a university, there are still many amazing options! You can take a gap year to do more things you love, take a break, or explore your options. You can also apply to any of the many rolling admissions universities around the US, as most accept applications into June. You can also apply to a community college and either complete your associate's degree there or apply to transfer if/when you would like to. 

If you have multiple choices, here are our tips on choosing where to commit:

Attend Virtual/Physical Events

  • If you have the chance to, you can tour the university, or otherwise attend the virtual events hosted by your university
    • Touring gives you the chance to see if you like the environment you might be living in
  • This can help you meet admitted and current students to see the student vibe
    • You can also scroll through current student forums of the university to see what type of online presence the students have 
  • You can also learn more about the school from attending lecturers/faculty/admissions staff

Deadlines (housing, deposits, course planning)

  • Housing
    • Once you are admitted, most universities give a May 1st deadline for you to turn in your deposit, indicating that you are committing to the university
      • Note: if you are waitlisted at a university you like better and get admitted off the waitlist, you can inform the university you originally committed to but you will not get back your deposit—let them know in advance you are on waitlists so that the university is not blindsided
    • Universities tend to have their own housing applications due usually in May or June—for universities with less housing available, this can determine if you get a spot, so make sure to fill in the application as soon as you can!
      • You can also look at verified chats or pages for admitted students in your year to see if you want to search for a roommate
    • Most universities will have all of their courses available online and deadlines will vary depending on school
      • Explore the course selections online or by contacting your first-year/student-faculty advisor 
      • Deadlines range from June to August/September
    • If you are completely sure what major you want to do, that’s great! You can cater your courses towards your major (and possibly general education) requirements
    • If you are not sure what you want to study, that’s great, too! You can cater your courses to what sounds interesting while fulfilling your general education requirements. Most universities won’t require you to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year

Appealing financial aid (it’s possible!) - but be wary of the price: can you afford it without debt/loans?

Out-of-state vs. in-state - which is more worth it?

Most importantly, consider “fit” again and gut feeling

  • If your financial situation permits, the university you feel like you like the most might be the best fit for you--
  • You can always try the coin trick. Associate heads/tails with universities of your choice, and flip the coin. If the coin lands and you’re happy with the result, that might be your subconscious favorite. If it lands on something and you still feel uncertain, well, you know your answer. In the middle of the coin flipping, if you felt that you had a side you subconsciously wanted it to land on, there’s your answer, too!

Follow our Instagram and keep up with the blog for the upcoming and past posts!  Join our Education Hub!  


The IPCC Report on Climate Change: How should we respond?

By Carolina Jones and edited by Lana Bess, with the Co Lab's Climate Hub 

After reading the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, it is easy to feel a sense of dread set in. The report confirmed what many of us have known for a while: the climate crisis is real, it is serious, and it isn’t going away any time soon. 

If we knew this already, why does our attitude toward the climate crisis change so much after the report?  Because at this point, there is no denying that we need to act now. There is no doubt about whether or not we can wait to take drastic measures. 

What stood out to me most from the report was the fact that the goal of the Paris Climate agreement is now unrealistic. I had clung to the Paris Climate Agreement as the last hope, a safety net. Our world leaders came together to set this goal and promised to work towards it. Now that keeping the rise in temperature under 1.5ºC is unattainable, it looks like we need to reassess this goal.

Since it is hard to deny the climate crisis right now with the IPCC predicament looming over our heads, many are freaking out about the situation. But we can’t let that happen either. An attitude of “Well, it’s already really bad, so there’s not much else I can do,” won’t take us anywhere. 

I understand that it’s hard not to feel terrified. I stress about the climate crisis, and I sometimes feel helpless in the face of this man-made disaster. 

This is called eco-anxiety, and it is becoming more prominent as more awareness and bad news about the climate crisis spreads. It's important for everyone to be climate optimist if we are going to make any big changes.  When I say ‘climate optimist’, I don't mean that we should just pretend that our climate is fine or that we don’t need to do anything about it. I mean that we need to be optimistic about the changes we will make. We can remain optimistic by taking action.

There was scientific evidence before this report, and the report shows even more proof that we need to act now. I think there is a lot of despair because there is not enough information out there on how to take action. We feel helpless because we don’t know what we can do to reduce global emissions.  

When I was younger, I thought that climate change was a simple problem that could be solved by turning off the lights in my household and making sure the faucets didn’t drip. I believed that if enough people did this, the climate crisis would be mitigated. 

I know now that it is a lot more complicated. We need big actions. Most of our global emissions are from major companies and corporations. I don’t understand how these companies can continue to emit with no thought for the very future of our planet They are making short-term investments; they are looking for profit now and now only. To mitigate the climate crisis, there needs to be some change taken by these big companies to reduce their emissions and waste. 

This makes it harder for us to get involved because we are in charge of the energy we use and the waste we create in our homes, but we aren’t in charge of major corporations that create most of our global emissions. I think that is why so many people feel helpless in the face of the climate crisis.

We need to convince our governments and major businesses to set ambitious goals for reducing emissions. 

That being said, I still turn off my lights and turn off faucets firmly because little actions still help. If we convince entire communities to take energy-saving and conservation measures, we can reduce a large chunk of global emissions. This involves saving energy in your home, eating less meat, carpooling, and much more. 

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is what many are looking to as a way to set new goals in response to the information from the IPCC report. COP26 is a global conference that will be held in Glasgow this year. I hope that the IPCC report will be the wake-up call needed to activate larger and more influential actions taken by countries around the world. We can help make this happen by voicing our opinions to our peers and our government on what needs to change in order to reduce global emissions. 

Taking action is the solution to both the worsening state of our planet and our eco-anxiety. We can lobby our government and corporations to implement new plans to reduce emissions that will meet our goals in the future. We can also help spread the word about small local actions that can be taken together. I hope that we can turn this bad news into a new surge of action. So next time a major report comes out, we can feel good about the future of the planet and the change that we have created. 

Teens globally have and will continue to work to educate and act on this global unprecedented crisis.  Join our virtual teen-led Climate Hub that meets weekly to work towards action with other teens globally who feel as passionate about the climate crisis as I do. Read more about the Global Co Lab’s Climate Hub and join the Climate Hub

Below I have provided some resources for taking action and learning more, and I encourage you to check them out. 

Learn more-

Greta Thunberg - The disarming case to act right now on climate change

Clover Hogan - What to do when climate change feels unstoppable

Read more about the IPCC report

How to take action-

Lobby to your government with CCL to promote a tax on carbon emissions 

Find opportunities near you with Fridays for Future