My name is Manat Kaur. I’m 16 years old and an 11th-grader in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am an Ashoka Young Changemaker and the founder of Object (www.object.live), a nonprofit empowering young girls to discover their self-esteem, confidence and self-image. My changemaker journey has allowed me to develop empathy, collaboration, resilience and problem-solving skills, which enable me to face challenges in the moment, like the speaker canceling, and make a difference. These traits, I believe, extend beyond the classroom, and are critical to success in today’s fast progressing world, where storytelling and technology are great catalysts for change. In today’s world, teamwork and collaboration is vital to make progress. I now have 30 teammates who contribute to leading Object chapters in the United States, India and Palestine. Through collaboration, Object is having a real impact at a local and international level. In the last three years, Object has grown in ways I could never have imagined. About 2,500 girls have attended Object workshops. In a survey of Object participants in the United States, 94 percent of girls reported increased self-confidence and 90 percent reported that they were more likely to follow their passions after attending Object workshops. I also learned that 87 percent of girls enjoy the opportunity to try something new. Seeing this impact is really fulfilling because it shows me that fewer girls will share my experience of struggling with confidence.
Through leading Object workshops for three years now, I have learned how to become a problem-solver and think on my feet. I have faced lots of last-minute challenges, such as speakers canceling, videographers being late, more girls registering than anticipated, etc. As a changemaker, I have learned how to think outside the box to brainstorm practical solutions. However, I have also internalized the importance of being kind to myself, since not everything can be perfect.
Every student in every classroom and in every community in America and globally can become a changemaker. Today, more than ever, we need youth to become changemakers because they bring fresh perspectives and motivation to solve global issues. We don’t know the limits. We define what is possible, which is a gift. We believe all change is possible. Being a changemaker is about working, in any capacity, to help others. Change begins with small actions and has a ripple effect. While you change the world, your actions change you. Every small step is powerful.