04/20/2012 12:58 am ET Updated Jun 19, 2012

Introducing the 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People in the World

Youth changing the world. Some may recognize that youth are always at the center of social change. Others may still think this is a radical idea.

But consider this: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both started their careers in the family garage as teenagers. When Gustavo Dudamel was named to head the LA Philharmonic at the tender age 27, he admitted to having 23 years of experience as a musician under his belt. Every great Olympic gymnast, skier, skater, or swimmer started in childhood. Whether it's reading, math, manners, or saving the world, important, lifelong skills are best started in childhood.

History tells us that people who change the world are often young -- they just need the chance.

And the easiest way to give them that chance is by asking -- no, expecting -- them to serve. It is through service to others that every young person discovers their character and finds their place in the world. Service is power.

This weekend, as Global Youth Service Day is celebrated in 102 countries on six continents, we will witness firsthand the power of youth. When you see a group of kids leading a neighborhood clean-up; when an after-school program studies and then comes up with systemic solutions for hunger; when eighth grade students tutor fourth graders in mathematics -- we see what is possible when young people take the lead.

To mark the occasion of the 24th annual Global Youth Service Day, YSA and The Huffington Post unveil today the YSA List of The 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People.

Each day for the next 25 days, we will spotlight a young person who, through service to others, is making extraordinary contributions to the world. These are youth who are leading today, through service to their communities, daring actions, and ingenuous solutions.

With the YSA List, we recognize and reward 25 incredible young people, and we hold them up as examples of what young people are doing all over the planet.

The YSA List is also about changing perceptions -- it's for anyone who still believes that young people "can't" do things, "shouldn't" act a certain way, "don't" deserve a voice.

With half the world's population under the age of 25, demographics alone mandate that we must listen to young people. The List speaks volumes to the power those youth bring to making the world safer, cleaner, fairer, healthier, and smarter.

On Global Youth Service Day, millions of youth and their adult champions come together to serve and to celebrate myriad contributions, large and small, that young people make to their communities each day of the year. The YSA List is a testament not only to these 25 honorees, but to the millions of kids who are finding their voice every day, then taking action and having impact on the biggest problems facing us all.

To post or find a GYSD project in your community, please visit