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 staff@globalcolab.net. Purchase the mask easily online at our website:  globalcolab.net/shop!

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 staff@globalcolab.net. 



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

Racial Justice Hub Launched for Teen Engagement and Empowerment

By:  Akshat Sinha, Aysha Nunes, Marieka Staheli, Niharika DSouza, and Sydney Rico

In honor of the late John Lewis, a towering figure in the US fight for racial equality, the Global Co Lab Network launched its 8th teen-led SDG Hub - this one aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal # 10 - indicator #2 - on Reducing Inequalities.  

The Racial Justice Hub meets virtually weekly to discuss and plan its various projects, led by Akshat Sinha and Aysha Nunes. Currently, it is working on educating whites to be allies, increasing teen awareness of implicit biases, and is launching a Racial Justice Arts Challenge, empowering teens to express their feelings via various forms of art to work towards a world free of racial injustice. The Challenge will also seek to use art to amplify youth voices in telling the stories of people of color and perspectives on racial injustices around the world. 

The Hub is eager for more teens to join to launch their own projects that they are passionate about. All teens globally age 13-18 are encouraged to join the Hub here by filling out this form that will help them get on board with our Hubs.  

Gender Equality Podcast Created: OverHERd

By Fatima Baloul, Teen Ambassador, Global Co Lab Gender Hub

When you are swimming in privilege, the inequity that occurs in the world can swirl beneath the surface. And it goes unnoticed. Currently, millions of marginalized individuals are undergoing harmful, gender-targeted violence and practices, including female genital mutilation and forced child marriages. Because of systemic racism, sexism, and patriarchy, women and girls have unequal educational and life opportunities, others lack reproductive rights, LGBTQ individuals experience discrimination, and millions of black women are mistreated and face pregnancy-related deaths. As teen changemakers, we wanted to address the overarching issue of gender inequity. We seek to create a collaborative space, designed to provide a global platform for communities to empower one another and discuss influential change for their particular needs.

Most recently, the Gender Equality SDG Hub is launching a podcast, called overHERd, designed to promote awareness and action around gender inequity. In this series, we will address the situations and honor the lives of beautiful individuals who are using their voices to empower others. We strive to shed light on women in education, postpartum depression, healthy masculinity, LGBTQ equality, navigating career and motherhood, challenges faced by minorities, gender norms, and social stigmas. The Gender Equality SDG Hub podcast, overHERd, is available on Spotify as well as Anchor. If you are interested in supporting our teens through being involved in our SDG Hub or learning more about us, see here. We would absolutely love for you to join!

Zero Hunger Hub Presents its Work on Sustainable Scoop!

By Sydney Rico, Teen Ambassador of Zero Hunger Hub and Co-Lab Intern and Ashley Cheung, Teen Ambassador of Hunger Hub

The Eco Teen Action Network's Hunger Hub was approached by Miriam Gennari and Alistair Watson of the Sustainable Scoop with the opportunity to share their work through a lens of sustainability and community involvement. Take a look at the Sustainable Scoop Episode that the Hunger Hub created below to learn about their work giving teens the opportunity to work towards a world without hunger.  Encourage teens globally to join us here!


Reflection on a Youth Mobilization Event

By Ellie Cowan, Summer Intern, Global Co Lab Network

At a time when our country is facing multiple crises, the youngest generation of activists, called “Gen Z”, have a lot of reasons to be frustrated. Whether it be from climate change, racial injustice, or the healthcare system, our generation is fed up with inaction and ignorance.

Kayla Peale (a Plastics Hub Ambassador) and I (a member of the Plastics Hub) decided it was time to translate our frustration into action. With help from our mentor Miriam Gennari, we organized an event that would unite youth from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to discuss the pressing issues of plastic pollution, climate change, and hunger. Not only did we want to have conversations about these problems, but we also wanted to give participants the resources and opportunities to take action.

With tremendous support from EcoAction Arlington, the SustainableScoop, and the Eco Teen Action Network, Kayla and I were able to turn our vision of engaging youth through a virtual event into reality. After weeks of planning, we were ready for June 22nd.  Here is our presentation.

The ninety-minute digital event included three recorded interviews featuring the following speakers: Lara Ilao of Plastic Tree, Karen Campblin & Jonathan Sokolow of Green New Deal Virginia, and Brenda Platt of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. These presentations set the stage for the three breakout rooms (plastic pollution, climate change, and hunger) that followed. Each room was led by Eco Teen Action Network teen ambassadors, who facilitated the conversations and presented areas of opportunity for action. The conversations were structured so that participants brainstormed action items at the personal/local, regional, and national levels.

At the conclusion of the event, all participants regrouped and shared the action items they discussed. Finally, Alistair Watson of the SustainableScoop talked about the importance of youth interviewing leaders and announced its new initiative - a website where you can access interviews, learn, and be connected to others interested in sustainability.  See the Hunger Hub's Sustainable Scoop they just published here!  

In addition to the recorded interviews and breakout rooms, Kayla and I had the unique opportunity to share our story - how we transitioned from being concerned citizens to activists. As concerned citizens, we realized how large of a problem plastic pollution was from just simple observations in our daily lives. It only took those small observations to fuel our fire. We started small by creating a club fighting plastics at our school. As it grew in size, we expanded our initiatives outside of our school and county, and are now working to make the change at the regional and national levels. Now, we are activists. Why? We had not only identified a concerning problem, but we were actively finding ways to solve it.

One thing I learned (and hopefully others learned too!) through the conversations during the breakout rooms is that activism must be intersectional. For instance, zero hunger cannot be achieved without addressing issues like homelessness and income inequality. Zero waste cannot be accomplished without recognizing how underprivileged groups are financially limited in their ability to afford sustainable alternatives. These problems are multi-faceted and will never be solved without looking at the big picture. In the current national climate, we cannot ignore the issues that are staring right at our faces.

It is my hope that the passionate teens who attended this special event now feel empowered to take action in their own communities. For me, issues like plastic pollution and climate change always seemed super daunting, and they can be. But you will soon realize that many other young people are just as passionate and willing to get involved as you are. The Eco Teen Action Network is a perfect example of a network of teens and mentors I was connected with who are fighting for the same issues I care about.  You can get engaged in these three hubs on climate, hunger and plastics and 5 other hubs here with the Global Co Lab Network.

I always tell other teen activists that all you need are the two “P’s”, persistence and passion, to find success. Do not get me wrong, success is never easy when you are talking about these issues. Kayla and I have received many “no’s” from businesses along the way. However, this does not mean the fight is over. It is inevitable that you will face denial and other obstacles along the way, but that is all part of the process in making change.

Teens Dream Video Competition Participants Set to Make a Difference

By Yonca Poyraz Dogan

It all started with a dream and then came action. Answering our questions, they tell us how it all came about and what they are doing to make a difference by taking part in the competition.

The History Teacher Gamze Emeksiz and Her Students

Gülçin Eroğlu, who leads her team, explained that their history teacher, Gamze Emeksiz talked about the Teens Dream Competition at their school, and she and her friends loved the idea of being a part of it. “So we were inspired by being a little voice to a big problem,” Eroğlu said.

Why did they choose the goal of zero hunger?

Competition participant Elif Sıla Erdem said that since too many people die of hunger every day unnecessarily, it was a natural choice.

Her teammate Gülşah Bal added that it was all about raising awareness. “Maybe we can’t solve the whole problem, but we can be the light of somebody’s life. Even if we can reach one person, our dream will come true,” she said. Another team member, Yağmur Uğur said that with the support of TATV, they found an opportunity to make the world hear their voices. “As a world citizen, I do have some responsibilities due to damage that has been made to planet Earth by our kind. And it is on us to fix it,” she said. According to Elif Kumlu, finding solutions to the world’s problems should be permanent. And one of the greatest ways of doing this is to participate in the Model United Nations (MUN) conferences. She reminded that “zero hunger” is one of the sustainable development goals of the UN, and as an active participant, she finds participating the MUN is a great platform to end hunger by finding solutions.

Global Co Lab Network notes:  Elif Sila Erdem has joined the Global Co Lab Network's Hunger Hub, a virtual room led by teens working on hunger in their communities.  We invite all teens globally to join our Hubs!

Arts Hub’s Global Youth Upcycling Challenge

By Annabel Williams, Teen Ambassador of the Global Co Lab Network Arts Hub

The Eco-Teen Action Network’s (ETANs) Arts Hub just launched its 2020 Global Youth Upcycling Challenge.  In partnership with ETAN’s Plastics Hub, Globart, the Global Co-Lab Network's Arts Hub challenges teens globally to submit photos of upcycled artwork creations to showcase on the Co Lab's social media platforms and the Global website. The challenge urges teens (ages 13-18) to create things from jewelry, fashion, home decor, to artwork using recycled materials such as plastic bottles, old wood, plastic bags, glass, newspaper, etc. 

With 14 billion pounds of trash being dumped into the ocean each year, overflowing landfills, and incinerators burning trash while releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it is abundantly clear that our world has a problem with waste, part of which can be attributed to the single-use culture. There are numerous problems contributing to our waste and many solutions to better manage that waste as well, but it is apparent that we need to change our habits and our thinking around consumerism to transition to a circular economy. This is the only way to actually reduce the amount of trash we put out and we do so by the well-known, but very accurate, saying reduce, reuse, recycle! Upcycling, by definition, means to “reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.” We are calling young people to action to create new items and beautiful artwork to bring awareness to the world’s single waste issue, reduce trash and pollution in their own communities, help people internalize the principles of reuse, and challenge students’ creativity and ability to work with new materials. 

To participate in the Global Youth Upcycling Challenge, you must be between 13 and 18 years of age and have photos of your work submitted before our deadline of September 15th to this submission form. We are anticipating to see things such as multimedia sculptures or collages, fashion items, rugs or baskets, jewelry, flower pots, and so much more. To learn more about the challenge guidelines and submission process, check out our infographic. We can’t wait to see what teens create!