Teen Reflection on Article: Paying for healthcare with Trees

By Marieka Staheli and Alex Trapanese, Climate Hub, Eco Teen Action Network

Orangutan habitats are disappearing due to widespread deforestation. ASRI and health and Harmony partnered in an effort to stop this in the Bornean forests. Affordable health care and organic farming were what Bornean people needed in order to support themselves without the profit earned from deforestation. With affordable health care and education on sustainable farming, the community could drastically reduce their deforestation and save orangutans in the Bornean region.

The approach ASRI and Health and Harmony took to the problem of deforestation and destruction of Bornean orangutan habitats was to ask the local community what it would take for illegal logging to stop. This tactic referred to in the article as “radical listening”, proved to be a success. Through listening to the local community's explanation that the solution would need to include new education and resources for organic farming and better healthcare, the two organizations executed a plan that included the opening of an affordable health clinic and training in organic farming.

The creation of this solution emphasizes listening and providing education, much like that of the solutions to environmental issues created by the Eco Teen Action Network. ETAN adult leaders listen to teens in the SDG Hubs of the Global Co Lab Network and provide information and connections to solve issues teens are passionate about.  Join our teen-led Hub on Climate Change!

See article here for more info!


TATV Staff Picks

TATV Staff Picked 2019 Teens Dream Young Producers

Fairfax, VA, April 23, 2020 – Teens Dream Collaborative 2019 Annual Video Competition provided teens with a forum to share their solutions to problems facing humanity. Teens shared their dreams of change in areas ranging from ocean pollution to mental health.

130 teens globally submitted short videos related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Earth Optimism. The Global Co Lab Network and its collaborator this year, the Smithsonian Conservation Commons, selected nine winning videos to be showcased at the Smithsonian’s Digital Earth Optimism Summit this week, April 22-26.

TATV’s staff picks are video productions specifically selected by TATV staff for their outstanding video productions and positive universal messages. The staff-picked young producers were among the semi-finalists of the 2019 Teens Dream Video Competition. TATV is a partner and a sponsor of Teens Dream Collaborative.

These are the staff-picked young producers who were among the semi-finalists of the 2019 Teens Dream Video Competition:

Deniz Çöçelli – Istanbul, Turkey
Mehmet Deler – Kastamonu, Turkey
Marina Dixon, Emma Flaherty and Haley Wong – Madison, CT, USA
Gülçin Eroğlu, Elif Sıla Erdem, Elif Kumlu, Gülşah Bal, and Yağmur Uğur – Kayseri, Turkey
Kaitlyn Joyce – Lakewood, CA, USA
Teia Torrent Requena – Girona, Catalonia, Spain

A young producer and staff pick, Mehmet Deler, summed up his competition experience when he wrote:

“We truly appreciate our TATV Staff Pick award and all of your encouragement. You have increased our self-confidence and raised our spirits. I am deeply grateful to the whole TATV team.”

Teens Dream, a project of the Global Co Lab Network, partners with organizations across the world to educate, inspire, connect, and help teens act on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

TATV congratulates everyone who shared their uplifting dreams by submitting a video to the Teens Dream Collaborative 2019 Annual Competition.

Contact: info@turkishamericantv.org


Turkish American TV (TATV), the award winning voice of the Turkish-American community, was founded in September 2005 with the mission of delivering educational, engaging, and entertaining programs on art, culture, lifestyles, music, dance, health, wellbeing, science, and technology.

Happy Earth Day! Watch Positive Solutions for Saving our Planet

Arlington, VA, April 20, 2020 – The Global Co Lab Network has partnered with the Smithsonian Conservation Commons to empower teens, both in a global video contest on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in the creation of an Eco Teen Action Network. Both are highlighted at this week’s free digital Earth Optimism Summit on April 22-25. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!

The Co Lab’s Teens Dream Collaborative 2019 Annual Video Competition provides teens ages 13-18 globally with a fun video contest to share their solutions to problems facing humanity with a focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Earth Optimism. 130 teens globally shared their dreams of change in areas ranging from ocean pollution to mental health and many other areas related to the SDGs and Earth Optimism. Nine videos were selected as winners and three of those will be showcased at the Earth Optimism Summit on Thursday, April 23 at 6:40. In addition, the Co Lab’s media partner Turkish American TV announced their own staff picks.

The Eco Teen Action Network (ETAN) created by the Co-Lab and Smithsonian Conservation Commons, has engaged teens from across the USA and world to address the SDGs in weekly video conferences over the past 18 months focused on building a network of teens to create action to fight climate change, plastics, and hunger and linking them to adult mentors. Teen ETAN Ambassadors from these three hubs will be interviewed on Friday, April 24th at 11:30 am at the Summit. Their videos for highlighting their hub work can be viewed here: plastics, hunger, and climate change. Co-Lab Teens Dream 2015 grand prizewinner teen rapper JAYO made a video for the summit as well.

The Global Co Lab Network congratulates all teens globally who submitted videos on their dreams related to the SDGs and earth optimism/positive solutions to the Teens Dream Collaborative 2019 Annual Competition, where each submitter has their own page, which can be viewed by region or SDG.

2019 Teens Dream Global Winners on U.N. SDGs and Earth Optimism

The Global Co Lab Network and its collaborator this year, the Smithsonian Conservation Commons, are delighted to announce this year's winners of the 2019 Teens Dream Video Competition where 130 teens globally submitted short videos up to 2 minutes on their dreams as they relate to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Earth Optimism, specifically positive solutions to addressing our global sustainable challenges!  Our nine Winners came from Spain, Turkey, UAE, Uganda and across the USA, specifically Colorado, California, Washington, and Michigan.   See our winners and their dreams below and the winners' videos.  Each winner receives $100 and the opportunity to be matched with a mentor and honored at a celebration in Washington DC in the Fall and also showcased at the Smithsonian's Digital Earth Optimism Summit in late April.  We will later announce our Grand Prize Winner who will get $500 - stay tuned!  We hope winners will join with interested teens globally to engage on SDG action in virtual rooms  - our SDG Hubs!  Winners below and their videos here:

Laia Martinoy Batlle – Catalonia, Spain

My dream is to stop hunger by saving the food we are wasting now, which supports SDG #12 on Responsible Consumption and Production 

Ryan Song – Auburn, Washington, USA

My dream is that we all work together to have a big impact to save our planet, which supports SDG # 13 on Climate Action 

Kristina Smolianinova - Abu Dhabi, UAE

My dream is to provide valuable education for all children, critical for most humans to improve lifestyle, which supports SDG #4 on Quality Education

Samuel Parker Celico – Denver Colorado, USA

My dream is to see cities design tiny housing, aligning with SDG #11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities

Junya Tomonari - Oakland County, Michigan, USA

My dream is that all realize the importance of addressing mental health issues, which aligns with SDG #3 on Good Health and Well-being.

Ceren Nur Polat - Turkey

My dream is that we have a genderless society, in alignment with SDG #5 Gender Equality

Claire Cohen – Orange County, California, USA

My dream is to stop the pollution that is destroying the coral reefs which could lead to endangerment of all marine life, supporting SDG # 14 Life Below Water.

Muweera Joseph – Uganda

My dream is an education system based on project-based learning, in line with SDG #4 on Quality Education.

Magal Brunner - Girona, Catalonia, Spain

My dream is to erase loneliness of elders by bringing together the elderly with the young, relating to SDG #3, Good Health and Well-being.

Teens Help Organize Wellness Week in Long Beach

Hi, I'm Ryann Chalmers, Teen Ambassador of the Teens Dream Mental Health Hub.  The week of March 9th-13th was our 8th Annual Wellness Week in Long Beach Polytechnic Highschool, which I helped organize.  It included rallies during lunch, workshops after school in the library, and on Friday, a health fair during lunch that brought many organizations to come out and educate kids on mental and physical wellness. Through these activities, kids were educated on how to better themselves and their lifestyle.  Each day included different themes that surrounded wellness:  

Monday: Motivation

Tuesday: Teamwork 

Wednesday: Inspiration and Calmness

Thursday: Relaxation and Taking Time to Re-energize

Friday: Finding the Right Resources (improve your lifestyle)

Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district had to cancel our health fair on Friday and the last workshop. But this week’s events on wellness has educated many kids at the school and brought fun to our campus.  I would love to talk with teens in other schools about how they can engage in a similar activity on their school campus. Join our Mental Health Hub with Teens Dream! For more info contact info@teensdreamcolab.org

Presentation on Food Waste

By Ashley Cheung and Sydney Rico, Co Ambassadors of Zero Hunger Hub with Eco Teen Action Network

On February 29th we had the opportunity of presenting a workshop called “Hungry for Change” at the annual LearnServe International Student Action Summit. We both taught students the importance of awareness surrounding food insecurity in our very own communities and gave them a hands-on experience of conducting a waste audit – a great way to create change in their very own schools. The experience didn't just give us the opportunity to teach others something new, it taught us how to better educate our peers as teen changemakers.  Here are the slides of our presentation!

At the beginning of our journey as leaders of the Zero Hunger Hub, we never guessed we would be standing up and using our experiences to inspire other teens to create change. Furthermore, our experience leading a workshop was not only a transformative one but a rewarding one on virtually every front. Specifically, we loved being able to share what we are passionate about with others, and showing them how easy it is to do something about food insecurity; especially with the impeccable support that we’ve had from each other and the Zero Hunger Hub.

We are now excited to be launching a collaboration on behalf of our Hub and the Eco Teen Action Network with DC Food Project, to help reduce food waste in schools throughout the DC area.  We are looking for teens locally and globally to join us!  Email us at info@teensdreamcolab.org.

Eco Teen Action Network Intern Reflects

Working as an Intern for the Global Co Lab Network-  Sylvia Luceno, February 19th

One month ago yesterday, I moved from Missoula, Montana to Washington, D.C. to intern for Linda at the Global Co Lab Network. For the past few years, since my junior year of high school, I’ve worked on engaging young people in Montana in organizing events, rallies, and educating other young people on how to get involved; when I heard of the wonderful platform Linda has created to engage young people with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, I was sold. I bought my ticket and headed to D.C.

Reflecting on my first month, I’ve already learned so much and had previous beliefs affirmed. Here are just a few:

  1. Young People are a Force to be Reckoned With.  In the time I’ve worked with the teens in their respective hubs in the Eco Teen Action Network, I’ve been humbled by their tenacity and passion. Despite their extremely busy schedules, these teens have worked with their mentors to make great strides in pushing the use of a reusable ToGo box on National Landing, collaborating with DC Food Project to launch food waste audits and share tables in schools in DMV and release a PSA aimed at building urgency surrounding climate change. In times such as these, it’s easy to get swept up by the doom-and-gloom of recent happenings, but these teens and my partners in Montana give me much reason to be hopeful. They are not working to become leaders, they already are leaders. They have incredible drive and organizational skills, which in tandem with their passion makes them a total force for the future. I am thankful for individuals like Linda and Brian with the Smithsonian Conservation Commons and all of the hub mentors for recognizing this quality in today’s youth and working with them to ensure that their ideas reach the fullest possible potential.
  2. Give people the opportunity to say yes… you’d be amazed at what can be done if you just speak out. In light of issues such as climate change, world hunger and the harmful impacts of the use of single-use plastics, I believe we all have a part to play in their mitigation; civilians and corporations alike. Admittedly, it is not the average Joe’s responsibility alone to solve these issues, nor is that a realistic feat. However, we should hold corporations accountable where we can. We should not shy away from speaking out just because of the size or power of a given business. I’ve witnessed and been a part of engagements with a number of corporations/organizations with the Global Co Lab already, in which we encouraged partnerships in sustainability efforts. The Plastics Hub has recently presented reusable alternatives to disposable plastics to big players such as JBG Smith and soon Amazon and continue to make progress with this venture. These teens are incredibly busy as we all are, and haven’t even graduated from high school.  What excuses do we really have to not use our voices and power as consumers to promote sustainability? Let us be inspired by these teens to not remain comfortable within the paradigm that we are too small to make a change or that corporations will make these changes themselves.
  3. There is much to be done!  Working with the Global Co Lab Network has allowed me to become more familiar with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and reinforced the notion for me that there is so much we can do, no matter your age, discipline, or time budget. You can play a role in working towards a more sustainable future and have fun! The exposure to the endless engagement possibilities that working with the Global Co Lab has allowed has been exceedingly valuable. Co-Lab makes it easy for teens, in particular, to get in contact with the right people and to stay on track if they want to become change agents, and they want as many teens as they can get! If you are wondering how you can join a network of teens to get involved or gain support for an existing project of yours, the Global Co Lab Network is committed to providing you with the support you need. I would have loved to get involved with the Co-Lab when I was in high school and would encourage students to reach out!

Learn more here!: https://globalcolab.net/eco-teen-action-network/

Northern Virginia Magazine Writes on Teen Dreams


group of students
Teen Dreams Co Lab members and co-creators. (Photo courtesy of Linda Staheli)

Linda Staheli believes in the power of youth.

“We’re really into creating teen change-makers,” she says, during a recent sit-down at her workspace, the CoWork Cafe in Arlington. The former government employee saw the energy and mobilization of young people over the years, especially when others seemed to turn a blind eye to it.

“Teens have historically always had a big role [in societal changes],” says Staheli.

She’s the one-woman band behind the Arlington-based nonprofit Global Co Lab Network, an organization dedicated to helping individuals from ages 13 to 35 foster collaboration and address the tougher, bigger issues that the world is facing today.

“I really wanted to find out how we could address these global challenges, and mobilize key people to solve them,” says Staheli.

In order to do that, Staheli created an organization that would allow her to tap into the motivation of the youth by connecting them with mentors (using some of her own connections), fostering communication opportunities and ultimately making change happen as a result

After four years and over 50 local meetings, Teens Dream Co Lab was co-created with the help of local NoVA teens (from high schools such as Oakton High School and the Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology), as a branch of the Global Co Lab Network that is dedicated to bringing students together virtually, to address topics from climate action to gender equality.

What a “Co Lab,” or virtual discussion group looks like for Teens Dream Co Lab. (Photo courtesy of Linda Staheli)

“A lot of organizations focused on the youth population over 18,” says Staheli. So, according to Staheli, she decided to meet the need of those looking to get involved who might be deemed “too young” or “too inexperienced.”

The nonprofit is now partially funded by a partnership with the Smithsonian and other organizations, using its platform to create virtual spaces for students all over the world to connect. There are “co labs,” (i.e. virtual hangouts and discussions) that touch on tough topics, speak several languages and mobilize into bigger initiatives when they can.

And the teens have already made their waves.

The Eco Teen Action Network, a local chapter of Teen Dreams Co Lab that focuses on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, will be honored on Dec. 6 at the sixth annual Four Generations of Leaders in Clean Energy & Sustainable Solutions Awards and Holiday Celebration for their recent initiatives.

And back in September, members of Teen Dreams Co Lab marched in solidarity with well-known, teen climate crisis advocate Greta Thunberg in Washington, DC.

Members of Teens Dream Co Lab marched during the climate marches held in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy of Linda Staheli)

People like Thunberg are the perfect example of the type of young individuals that Staheli wants to get involved in Teen Dreams Co Lab.

“This is for any kid on the planet who wants to be a change-maker,” says Staheli. “It’s all about empowering them.”

For the sixth year in a row, the organization launched its annual video competition. It’s one of its biggest initiatives worldwide, having previously gathered more than 400 submissions from over 40 countries.

This year’s competition will name nine winners in April 2020. Each winner from across the globe will win up to $500 and will be sent to Washington, DC, where each teen will be honored with an award and paired with a mentor to learn and experience further the type of change they want to make.

Until Jan. 13, 2020, students can submit a two-minute video focused on Earth Optimism (a partnership and initiative by the Smithsonian Institute) and pertaining to one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. According to Staheli, it’s incredible to see what national and international students come up with.

“Teens want to be a part of the solutions,” says Staheli. And she’s hoping to help them get there, one step at a time.

The organization is still in its growing phase, says Staheli. She is always on the lookout for mentors and students who are looking to get involved. No matter what skills you bring to the table, Staheli believes you can find a co lab to fit into and help propel towards action.

“We truly want to incubate initiatives and bring people together,” says Staheli.

For more information on Global Co Lab NetworkTeens Dream Co Lab or the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism partnership, be sure to check out the website. And if you know a student who may want to enter the video contest, submissions are being accepted here.

Diana from Paraguay shares Teens Dream Story

Hi everyone! My name is Diana Vicezar and I am second from right in the photo above, 18 years old and from the country known as the heart of South America, Paraguay! I am one of the winners of the Teens Dream 2018 video contest. My dream is to help the 200 million stray dogs with housing, as a means of addressing SDG #15 Life on Land. I made my video about Mymba Rayhu, a youth-led non-profit organization that I founded when I was 16 years old, and that focused on raising awareness about animal welfare and plastic pollution.

I found out about Teens Dream through a website of opportunities for young people. When I read about the competition and the work that Global Co Lab does to help young people from different parts of the world fulfill their dreams to make the world a better place, I realized that I needed to get involved and send my video and share what I had been doing with my nonprofit organization Mymba Rayhu.

After submitting my video, I did not imagine that I could be selected among so many applicants from all over the world. To my surprise, I received the great news on March 31. I remember crying because I was very happy that they chose my organization as one of the 9 winners this year. Since that day, Linda Staheli, founding director of the Global Co Lab Network, and all team members helped me get ready for the BIG CELEBRATION.

Little did I know that amazing things were waiting for me after joining this Global Family. As a winner of the Teens Dream competition, I was assigned a mentor who would guide me on how to make my dream come true. Jennifer Katac is the Director of Community Programs at Animal Welfare League of Arlington, an organization I was interested in even before I met Jennifer.

I traveled to Washington, DC last October to attend the annual celebration. After 17 hours traveling from Paraguay to DC, I finally met the other winners of this year and past years, my mentor and all the people who work with the network. Linda and her team introduced me to the host family that made me feel at home since day 1. I can say that one of the best parts of this experience was to share my dreams and projects with this family.

My second day in DC was full of great moments. In the morning I met my mentor Jennifer Katac, who took me on a tour around her workplace, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. She introduced me to all the people who work there, including CEO Samuel Wolbert. I learned about all the services they offer, and the ways they help animals and promote adoption in the city. It could not have been a better way to spend my first morning in DC than meeting amazing people and cute animals ready to go home.

After the meeting with my mentor, I went to the United Nations Foundation Headquarters, where I had the opportunity to present my nonprofit and talk about my dream; a milestone I never imagined achieving. During a special meeting on Youth working for the Sustainable Development Goals around the world, I met the other 9 winners whose innovative videos inspired me to continue working hard to make my dream come true. This meeting with Anna Mahalak, current Youth Engagement Manager at the UN Foundation, was a unique and perfect opportunity to share not only my story leading Mymba Rayhu but also about the reality of many other young people leading projects related to the 15th Global Goal: Life on Land.  When I was at headquarters, I could not stop thinking about how life puts us in the right place at the right time to make the most of all the opportunities. When I applied to the Teens Dream competition, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to be in such a great place as the UN Foundation Headquarters.

The day was getting even better. After having lunch, we all went sightseeing downtown. Arlington Independent Media was the next place to visit. There we had some presentations lead by Brian Coyle from the Smithsonian Earth Optimism and Eco Teen Action Network, and the Teen Co-Creators. My day had a perfect closing dinner with all the other winners, who in just a couple of hours became my friends.

On Saturday afternoon we had a big celebration where our videos were presented and all the winners received our award certificates. My mentor and I spoke in front of an audience of more than 130 people. I talked about why I created the video and why the topic matters to me. My mentor made a brief presentation about why the topic is important, what they do in the Animal Welfare League and the reasons why youth activism is important. After the celebration, we all went to the reception at Linda's house, where we enjoyed great food and had good conversations before returning to our cities to start working to make our dreams come true.

This wonderful experience made me realize that we need to believe that everything we are doing right now has a purpose in our lives, nothing is a coincidence. Don't give up on the things you love! Some of our goals may seem impossible to achieve, but we must never stop dreaming of making them a reality.

I want to thank Global Co-Lab for giving me the opportunity to be part of this network of young changemakers and open new doors for me. Thanks to Linda Staheli, Suzanne Wells and her family, Pat Sartorius and the winners for all their support before and during my stay in DC. I can’t wait to engage with the Hubs and help make the change in the world.