June 16 is the International Day of the African Child -- called "Youth Day" in South Africa. Thirty-five years ago today, hundreds of young black children were killed or injured by police as they peacefully marched through the streets of Soweto, South Africa to demand improved education standards and the right to be taught in their own language.
Today, as we honor the bravery and sacrifice of these young children and their pivotal role in the creation of a free South Africa, we are reminded of a universal truth: one is never too young to make a difference.
As an Ambassador for PSI and a supporter of Nothing But Nets, I have met individuals around the world who are lending their ideas, their voices, and their time to improve their communities and the world at large. And there are millions more that I have not met. On April 25, World Malaria Day, I launched an essay competition with ABC News' Be the Change: Save a Life to give these unsung heroes a platform to share their stories.
I should not have been surprised by the fact that the majority of the essays I received were from young students -- many of whom are the same age as those who took their ideas to the streets of Soweto in 1976. One such student is Micaela Martin from Argentina, whose essay is shared below.
I am honored -- and humbled -- that my work with PSI has helped Micaela discover new ways to be a part of global health and environmental solutions. But more importantly, I am inspired by her.
At only 15 years old, Micaela has a breadth of social awareness -- and a track record of action -- that encourages me to continue using my time and resources to support causes that are important to me. I hope her story convinces you to do the same.
Nelson Mandela once said, "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
Today, I argue that not only must our global society treat our children well, but we also owe it to ourselves to listen to them, to learn from them, and to let them lead.
Essay by: Micaela Martin, 15, Buenos Aires, Argentina
I always wanted to help, always wanted to improve the planet and I love finding a chance to do so. From little girl I always wanted to collaborate on a lot of organizations, have a room for children, disclose information, etc. And that was one of my goals for when I grew up, wanted to have a credit card but not for spend it on clothes or toys but for donations.
Now I'm not big, but with my 15 years I can do many things. Through the mass media (like facebook and twitter) I divulge information about Nothing But Nets, sharing links, using a picture campaign of picture profile, and most of all a special day on 25 April. This goes without saying that I have donated money of the credit card of my parents (with their consent) as both my mom and my dad supported me in this.
Nationally collaborate with the Hospital Garrahan (http://www.garrahan.gov.ar/) collecting plastic caps of bottles that are recycled and are used to buy wheelchairs and items for hospital patients as well as the contribution it makes to the environment. I started this when my twin sister started going to this hospital for a few problems in her maturity and I felt very good to know the good that was causing. Right now I'm trying to recycle paper and caps at my school.
I started with the issue of malaria by Mandy Moore, for years I'm a big fan of she, not only as a singer or actress, but also how she is like a person.
In conclusion, I love to help and thanks to Mandy for making me see how I can. If I can do something from my country in anything else do not hesitate to inform me.