Through a historical lens, younger generations have been dismissed and overgeneralized as “entitled” and “sensitive,” more often than not, by those that preceded them. What these stereotypes fail to acknowledge is that today’s youth aren’t so much entitled as they are conscious of the world surrounding them, and although sensitivity might be considered a weakness to some—compassion and commitment remain at the root of change. These are the five bold, unapologetic young adults who are transforming our cultural landscape.
- Greta Thunberg
Eighteen-year-old activist Greta Thunberg’s meteoric rise to preeminence ensued upon spearheading the 2018 climate change movement Fridays for Future. Thunberg’s commitment to environmental justice began at just 8-years-old; in the following years, she transformed her lifestyle by becoming vegan and abstaining from air travel as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During her time as a high school student, she organized strikes outside of Sweden’s parliament, consequently sparking a worldwide movement in which hundreds of thousands of students participated. Thunberg has since spoken at the 2018 United Nations Climate Conference and the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, where she was widely commended for delivering her profound and impassioned ‘How Dare You’ speech. Within three years, she has garnered an impressive range of estimable accolades including a title for the youngest Time Person of the Year in 2019, three consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, and various other achievements. Driven to bring environmental justice to the forefront of legislation, Thunberg’s passion and vigor continue to resonate with younger generations across the globe.
- Evan Sharma
Creator Evan Sharma has emerged as one of Canada’s most talented young artists – initially breaking through when he was accepted into Toronto’s largest juried art show as a 12 year old. Oftentimes compared to Basquiat, Picasso and Matisse, the now 17-year-old’s vivid, evocative portraits emanate a kind of creative energy stirred by his experiences with Canada’s urban culture and jagged landscapes. Characterizing his mode of art as “vibrant impressionism,” Sharma employs a multifaceted approach to his creations by utilizing various mediums such as canvas, clothing and sneakers. Increasingly, his landscapes explore solutions to global warming, an area that he has worked in as an environmental researcher.
In 2021, he is launching RBLB (Right Brain/Left Brain) – a wearable art collection – inspired by his philosophy that, “to be a whole person, you have to use both your right or creative brain and your left or analytical side.” Sharma has appeared in a number of documentaries, including those by CBC Arts, CTV and Shopify Studios.
Emphasizing the importance of giving back to communities, Sharma has donated artwork that has raised nearly $100,000 for several charities including Flying Kites, the United Way and VibeArts. This year he founded and launched the CovART Challenge – a fine art auction which helped raise funding to supply over 200,000 meals for Kenyan children whose nutrition and education was impacted by COVID19.
- Malala Yousafzai
In 2014, education activist Malala Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at 17-years-old for her advocacy efforts, most notably her establishment of the Malala Fund—an initiative created to support the fight for education rights for girls. After surviving a targeted assassination attempt carried out by the Taliban in 2012, Yousafzai remained resolute in her championship for women’s rights, drawing specific attention to accessible education opportunities. In 2013, she released a nonfiction bestseller, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, and in 2017 she published a children’s picture book illustrating her thoughts and experiences growing up as a young Pakistani girl. Now a recent graduate from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, she continues to travel around the world, committed to supporting and building relationships with girls who endure hostile conditions of poverty, violence and gender discrimination.
- Charly Jordan
Entrepreneur, model, DJ and social media maven Charly Jordan embodies a generation that continually redefines the ever-evolving media landscape. During her formative years in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jordan pursued a prosperous modeling career that soon propelled her to prominence on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, eventually amassing a combined following of almost 10 million users. Since the launch of her career, Jordan has collaborated with several noteworthy brands such as Revolve, Forever 21 and Pura Vida. The success of her career subsequently led to the establishment of the organic smoking brand Roses, a business that highlights sustainable sourcing, and the fashion label Beauty in Pain—a brand centered on raising mental health awareness. In harnessing her extensive reach coupled with modern era branding, she continues to foster positive discussions around mental health issues and their impact on adolescents and young adults. Jordan’s passion for environmental and mental health advocacy is driven by the purpose to promote fundamental change among rising generations.
- Chiara Sacchi
Nineteen-year-old climate change activist Chiara Sacchi helped initiate the culturally defining movement Children vs Climate Crisis alongside 16 other young, global leaders at the vanguard of growing climate initiatives. In 2019, Sacchi made an official complaint to the UN organization Committee on the Rights of the Child, calling on five dominant economic powers to demonstrate greater accountability for breaching the rights of today’s youth and future generations. With roots in Haedo, Argentina, she became increasingly concerned about the dramatic temperature shifts occurring in her home country. This, along with her family’s efforts in cultivating healthy nutritional habits, compelled Sacchi to leverage her voice in the battle against climate change. An active member of the grassroots organization Slow Food, Sacchi has adopted a role in food sovereignty activism and, in doing so, continues to educate people on the detrimental effects of agro-industrial production while, alternatively, promoting biodiversity and sustainable producers.