Partnership with Smithsonian Affiliates!

The Global Co Lab Network and its project Teens Dream were delighted to again partner with the Smithsonian in this year's annual Teens Dream Video Competition, specifically with the Smithsonian Affiliates!  Nine US museums worked with teens in their area to encourage them to submit to the global competition.  Aligning with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, their innovative solutions come from around the country and provide fresh insight into problem-solving for their communities - in their homes, schools, and hometowns. As part of the Smithsonian's Earth Optimism initiative, these students, working with mentors at Smithsonian Affiliate organizations, created two-minute videos to present ideas that can be replicated and scaled, and present a sense of hope in the dialogue around conservation and sustainability. The Smithsonian teen submission ideas presented here were awarded recognition and/or implementation of $500 mini-grants by this year's Teens Dream Changemaker Challenge competition. This collaboration was made possible by a grant from the Smithsonian Women's Committee.

Wildlife Conservation Hub's Info Session with Rhinosaverz

By the teen leaders of the Wildlife Conservation Hub, Sara Bigley, Ankitha Venguswamy, and Maria Alonso Novo

On December 27th, 2020 the Co Lab's Wildlife Conservation Hub came together with changemakers around the world to discuss the critical issue of wildlife conservation and preservation of biodiversity. The two speakers that were featured were Ms. Tendai Gumbo Wilkinson, an educator and artist working within the nonprofit organization Rhinosaverz as the project facilitator, to inspire and connect artists of all ages to use art to connect and heal, and Mr. Charles Summerfield, the founder of Rhinosaverz, musician, and conservationist. Through our info session, we were able to discuss topics like preservation of resources, being environmentally conscious in our decisions as a consumer, and the halting of single-use plastics. Charles was able to describe the actual situation on the ground in South Africa, with his experience working with rangers in the region, about the extent of the poaching crisis causing many species of animals that are extremely endangered to be on the brink of extinction. Especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, poachers are even less restricted in their access to wildlife because of the lack of regulation from governmental organizations. Tendai emphasized the need for young people to get involved in these crises, and make a difference in whatever way they can, whether it be through fundraising for conservancies and on the ground efforts, creating art, or raising awareness, we all have a part to do in our communities. 

Through our info session, our hub was also able to connect with people from many different countries, including Jazmin Salazar from Mexico, who has created the project Wocean and “The Earth Talk” podcast to showcase stories of people working in the field of wildlife conservation and marine life conservation. She said “Only by knowing, we can create the change we want to see,” and advocates for more teen involvement in long-term projects dedicated to saving wildlife. Other organizations that Charles has worked with in the past have included the Save the African Rhinos Foundation that has done work in the national parks, and aided rangers in South Africa by giving them resources and food supplies. He has worked with the biggest rhino orphanage in South Africa, Care for Wild, which is a sanctuary for rhinos to develop and be released into the wild under protection. The Tikki Hywood organization was another foundation Charles has worked with that has advocated for the protection of the pangolin, a highly endangered species. Above all, Charles and Tendai underscore the importance of giving back to the communities we are all in, our social circles, and our peers. “If everyone gives themselves a little piece of action… that is the one thing that I would really really inspire anyone to do.”

If you are interested in watching our full info session, please click here.

Image by Nel Botha from Pixabay


Co Lab Hunger Hub Reaches out to Arlington Public Schools in Virginia!

By Hub Member Yosief Tewelde and Hub Ambassador Eryk Schumacher

The Zero Hunger SDG Hub is a resource for teens globally that want to end hunger and promote food sustainability in their own communities. This hub is focused on goal #2 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which is Zero Hunger.  The mission statement of the Zero Hunger SDG Hub: “We are a global community of teen changemakers who are empowering each other to eliminate hunger and create food sustainability in our own communities.”

Most recently, the Hunger Hub has embarked on a mission to educate teens on how they can propagate vegetables. So far we’ve presented to VA Arlington County’s Career Center Culinary Arts class. The presentation was great and shared info on the Hub and the types of things they have done in the past, such as a "Share Table" in D.C. where the youth learn how to share food and reduce food waste -- it should not be seen as a bad thing -- it is really great. They also shared a suggestion for a community garden that they want to start in Arlington - they are looking for teens in Arlington who want to help get that started. Then finally we learned about plant propagation, a great interactive way for all of us to get involved. Then finally we talked about how to join the Hub which you can do here.  Join us!  .   


The Effect of Coral on Marine Biodiversity

Written by Sarah Bigley, Maria Alonso Novo, and Ankitha Venguswamy, of the Co-Lab Wildlife Conservation Hub

Coral reefs are home to the world’s most abundant source of marine wildlife, including many diverse species like sea turtles, sponges, jellyfish, sharks, dolphins, sea birds, crabs, and over 4000 different species of fish. It is estimated that around 25% of marine biodiversity can be found in coral reefs, and the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia itself is the largest coral reef system in the world, housing over 1,500 species of fish and other organisms. The Indo-Australian archipelago has some of the most diverse marine wildlife in the world because of the large populations of coral that grow there. However, historically, the Indo-Australian archipelago has been challenged by its sensitivity to climate change and sea levels. 

In one study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a group of researchers studied how coral reef populations affected marine wildlife during the Quaternary period, around 125,000 years ago. By reconstructing coral reef paleo distributions from the Quaternary era, they observed that cold temperatures and sea level drops caused massive coral habitat loss. Many of the coral reefs killed resulted from the rise of the sea surface temperature, which impacted the surrounding area by killing a lot of fish. It was observed that on “short temporal and small spatial scales” the corals can fluctuate greatly, which affects the composition and abundance of certain species. Stable coral reef populations help with marine diversity by acting as refugia — an area where organisms can survive through a period of unstable/ harsh time with a difficult climate (glaciation in this case). This prevented species loss because it provided habitat for the many species of fish. In the study, they measured the global distribution of fish species richness from the past 3 million years (sediment cores gave clues to the sea surface temperature and sea level paleo conditions of the habitat). The three species of fish studied, Pomacentridae, damselfishes; Labridae, wrasses; and Chaetodontidae, butterflyfishes; all had population increases when isolated in refugia. It is likely that historical barriers, like those created by the sea level drops in the Quaternary, contributed to the isolation of species by cutting off local sea basins. This wasn’t just because of the water temperature, because scientists also examined other fossils from the same period but from further away from the Quaternary coral reef, which proves the positive effect of the coral.

The study concluded that areas that retained suitable coral reefs served as refugia which was a key part in “buffering species from extinction” (Pellissier, 1017). In a time when marine wildlife is rapidly decaying from climate change causing ocean temperatures to rise, which can change how fish species migrate and can kill coral reefs, it is important to be advocates for the protection of these species. The Wildlife Conservation Hub, a team that is part of the Global Co Lab Network, is committed to raising awareness and doing our part to understand the effects of our actions on the environment. We have worked with non-profit organizations in the past like Rhinosaverz, which works on the ground in South Africa for wildlife protection against poaching, artists like Emily Tin Yang who has fundraised for wildlife conservation organizations, and Wocean, an organization started by two Mexican students who created “The Earth Talk'' podcast to share stories of people in the field of wildlife conservation. We have also started an Instagram campaign to educate others about the protection of wildlife and you can see more on @teensdreamcolab on Instagram. We are passionate about the protection of wildlife both on land and in the ocean and hope our message will inspire you to learn and protect our planet. We would love to have you join us.  To learn more, see here.



Mental Health Hub and Arts Hub Have Art Therapy Session You can Watch Anytime!

By Annabel Williams, Teen Ambassador, Co Lab Arts Hub

Schoolwork, politics, COVID-19, social stuff, and so much more—the world is a stressful place right now, especially for teens. Personally, since distance learning started, I have had trouble managing my own stress, staying motivated, and prioritizing my mental health more than usual. As an artist myself, I found solace and peace in this crazy, stressful moment by falling back to my pens, paints, and sketchbook.

Art, among other creative forms, can be a useful tool to help one grapple with their emotions, relax, and bring positivity and improve self-esteem. Art therapy is said to help people explore perceptual, sensory, kinesthetic, and symbolic opportunities while expressing their emotions in a visual, understandable way. In a 2018 study, researchers found that art therapy can lead to significant improvements in overall mental health.

Art therapy is a popular and easy way to bring the plentiful benefits of art into the lives of people of all ages and skill levels, especially those not already engaging in frequent art or creative activities. Anyone can practice art therapy! 

Teen Dream’s Mental Health Hub and Arts Hub have collaborated to create an Art-Therapy session which was held on November 21st, 2020! We selected a few of the numerous art therapy activities/techniques to engage teens in a 1-hour zoom session. We had a wonderful trained art therapist, Cecilia Eirin, join us to speak more about the benefits of art therapy before having Hub-members lead the teens through the art activities. 

Our hope is to get as many teens as possible to watch our recording of that event so they can do art therapy at their leisure and be able to take away some of the activities we teach to utilize whenever they are feeling anxious and overwhelmed.  Tell your friends about it too!


Be Kind to Your Mind!

Written by Ryann Chalmers, Teen Ambaassaador of the Co Lab’s Mental Health Hub

Our Global Co Lab Network Mental Health Hub is teen-led and meets virtually weekly to raise awareness on different mental health illnesses and provide resources through our social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and youtube. Our Hub posts educational slides frequently on our social media networks in order to keep the conversation going.

For this month we have created a Mental Health Hub mask that promotes “Be Kind to Your Mind”!   Please help us spread this message with our cute mask here!  You can buy our mask here – each $10 mask sold gives $2 to our Hub to help us continue our work!  

Mental Illness Awareness Week was earlier this month in October.  There are many ranges of mental health illnesses.  The commonly known ones are Anxiety Disorder and Depression while others are less commonly known such as borderline personality disorder, dissociation, and psychosis. Everyone in the world should be aware and educated on these different types of mental health challenges and work to reduce the stigma associated with them.  Even though this mental health campaign is only one week, we should be educating ourselves all year! 

Encourage teens to join our Mental Health Hub by taking this short orientation after which they will be invited to join our Hub! 


Teens Dream Annual Competition Winners and Activists Envision a Sustainable World

By Yonca Poyraz-Doğan, Turkish American TV, Media Partner of Teens Dream and the Global Co Lab Network

Teens Dream 2019 Video Competition has resulted with nine winners focusing on educating teens globally about the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, and the grand prize has gone to a teen whose dream is to stop hunger.

The grand prize winner, Laia Martinoy Batlle from Catalonia, Spain, joined the competition with her “Save Food, Save People” titled animation which emphasizes that 25,000 people die of hunger each day, meaning 34 people by the time you finish watching her video.

She envisions creating an app that would help local businesses to announce the food that they are bound to waste, so people would be able to see the announcements and purchase that food for a reduced price.

Her short video story supports the “Responsible Consumption and Production” goal of the sustainable development goals adopted in 2015.

Eight additional winners out of the 130 submissions from all over the world have had dreams ranging from stopping climate change and poverty to promoting gender equality and quality education.

Judges from the Teens Dream Co-Lab, which is a collaborative of teens and adults who encourage teens globally to be change agents in their communities and the world, evaluated the videos based on six categories: creativity, message clarity and relevance, motivation and inspiration, articulation of how the dream can be achieved, relevance to the SDGs, and earth optimism.

The winners were announced in March 2020. Their videos were screened during the Annual October 3rd, 2020 Teens Dream Virtual Celebration that brought together participants – teens and mentors – around the world as part of the Global Co Lab Network that focuses on connecting youth locally, nationally and globally with established networks and expertise, utilizing small gatherings called Co-Labs and virtual rooms.

“This is our sixth year celebrating teen changemakers but this is our first virtual celebration,” said Linda Staheli, founding director of the Global Co Lab Network, a non-governmental organization based in Arlington, Virginia in the U.S. “Let me call out our teens because they are why we are here.  I am so proud of them — our leaders, winners, submitters, and most importantly our members — they blow me away every day with their passion, intelligence, kindness, and hard work.” The Celebration also highlighted the ten virtual SDG Hubs led by teens with adult mentors that meet weekly to implement action on the SDGs.

virtual reception followed the meeting where participants went to either or all of the four virtual reality rooms: the main halla room with teens dream winners videos, a room highlighting our partners, and a Co-Lab Cafe with food and drinks. Teens Dream Co Lab invites all teens to do their part and enter the next video competition. This year, ten winners will be encouraged to implement their visions with a grant of $500 and they will showcase the work they have accomplished to implement their dream at the next virtual Celebration in Fall 2021. Check out the Teens Dream website for details and apply.

Here is the list of 2019 Teens Dream Video Competition winners:

Laia Martinoy Batlle – Catalonia, Spain: SDG #12 on Responsible Consumption and Production.

Ryan Song – Auburn, Washington, USA: SDG # 13 on Climate Action.

Kristina Smolianinova – Abu Dhabi, UAE: SDG #4 on Quality Education

Samuel Parker Celico – Denver Colorado, USA: SDG #11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities

Ceren Nur Polat – Şanlıurfa, Turkey: SDG #5 Gender Equality

Claire Cohen – Orange County, California, USA: SDG # 14 Life Below Water.

Muweera Joseph – Uganda: SDG #4 on Quality Education.

Magali Brunner – Girona, Catalonia, Spain: SDG #3, Good Health and Well-being

Gülçin Eroğlu  – Kayseri, Turkey and Team!: SDG #2 Zero Hunger

We thank everyone who submitted a video for Teens Dream Collaborative 2019 Annual Competition.

TATV is a proud media partner and supporter of Teens Dream Collaborative and Global Co Lab Network.

Purchase a Teen Made Mask on the SDGs!

By Marieka Staheli, Teen Ambassador of the Climate Hub and Sydney Rico, Global Co Lab Network Fellow and Mask Distributor

The Global Co Lab Network’s teen-led Virtual Hubs on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have been designing SDG message masks since June!  First, the Climate Hub’s mask promotes clean transportation, “Green Your Commute.”  Then the Hunger Hub’s mask “Farm Your Food!”  Timely for the elections in September 2020, the Art’s Hub created “Vote For Your Future,” and this week our new Racial Justice Hub is launching its mask “Racial justice Now!”

With people across the planet wearing masks, what better time to be messaging these extremely important statements with artwork designed by teens wherever you go. Purchasing a mask goes a long way towards helping to make a statement and support an organization working to empower teens to lead change. 

You can purchase each mask for $10, with $2 of the mask benefiting the Global Co Lab Network SDG Hub, as they will get the proceeds to expand their work!  Handmade by local Arlingtonian Otgon Altankhuyag and her amazing team with two thin soft cotton layers, they are comfy, washable, have a great fit, and most important have fabulous messages on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)!  We are so proud of our teens working collaboratively taking initiative on this project! 

Email if you want to order from outside the USA to Purchase the mask easily online at our website:!

Join Arts Hub in Upcycling Art Challenge and Webinar!

By Defne Yaman, Member of Arts Hub, from Turkey

The Eco-Teen Action Network’s (ETAN) Arts Hub has launched its 2020 Global Youth Upcycling Challenge some time ago and now they’re organizing a webinar! As you may know, in partnership with ETAN’s  Plastics Hub and Globart; Arts Hub challenged you, the teens (ages 13-18), to submit photos of your upcycled artworks, jewelry, fashion, and decor items. If you don’t know what “upcycling” is, it is “to reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original”. So consider showing the world your talent by creating something original from plastic bottles, old textbooks, wood from your backyard, flat tires, etc.  Are you interested? Submit your work to this submission form or visit this blog to learn more about this challenge. 

But hold on! Maybe you’re not sure what to do or you need inspiration… Our team thought of that, too! Arts Hub is determined to introduce you to two amazing teen upcycling artists: Asia Butler and Diana Vicezar. If you join this webinar which will be on the 28th of August; you’ll learn more about upcycling, meet these artists, ask every question you have in mind, and boost your inspiration.

We want to quickly introduce the artists before ending this article. Asia Butler is a 15-year-old upcycling artist from Harbour Island Eleuthera, Bahamas. She will be talking about the bench she made from plastic bottles, wraps, and wood pallets. And you can actually sit on it which is really cool! Our other guest is Diana Vicezar. She is 18 years old and she has already done some amazing things!  She established an organization called “Mymba Rayhu” where they build shelters for abandoned dogs entirely from recycled materials. You can see the pictures of their inspiring work under this article.

Arts Hub wishes you’re as excited as they are. You can fill the participation form for the Upcycling Webinar from here. Note that the submission form for the upcycling challenge will close on September 15, so may the muses be with you! For more information and updates, please follow us on all social media platforms and/or email us at 



Technology Isn't as Widespread as we Think

Technology Isn’t as Widespread as we Think 

By Amara Mir, Member of the Global Co Lab Network's Education SDG Hub

In the 21st century, it is now assumed that almost everyone has access to some form of technology. The lack of truth in this belief, however, was highlighted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of children around the world have not had access to education as a result of the closure of schools. Without technology to continue remotely, they are falling behind. Although the media often reports the effects of COVID-19 on education in the US, coverage on education in less technologically-adept countries is less widespread. Seeing as though education is a right, this is a pivotal conversation that is being neglected, and it could be insightful to look at how countries/regions are dealing with education without having access to technology (or even to see how it could be improved/the lack of effort for education in some areas). 

The Co Lab's Quality Education Hub is currently participating in the SDG Challenge, proposing our own solution to achieve SDG 4 of Quality Education: an application and tablet called FemForEd. The app will feature an interactive and adaptable curriculum for all ages, with the focal point being that it’s purely audio-visual. Without the need to read/write to use the application, the application aims to be completely accessible for everyone from developed communities to rural areas. For more information, stay updated as the hub will post the video and the application with more details on the Hub page. Interested in solving the problem and being a part of a group of like-minded, global teens around the world? Join the Quality Education Hub here!

Some resources to learn more and help:

Education and COVID-19: UN helps children continue their learning - UN