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Earlier this year, Aerie launched its Aerie Real Change Initiative and awarded 20 fierce and inspiring members of the #AerieREAL community with $20,000 grants to help them on their journey in making the world a better place.
This month, Aerie introduced its 2020 Changemakers and shared their powerful work and stories of triumph, adversity, hope and resilience with its community. This selected group of women are creating positive shifts in their communities and around the globe – leading impactful projects such as building libraries in underserved regions, empowering incarcerated youth through writing, shedding light on diverse stories and more. These young activists and entrepreneurs continue to serve as advocates within their own communities, pushing humanity forward and creating real change.
I asked these inspiring women: What advice do you have for other young women who want to change the world? Here’s what 4 of them said.
Katie Howland, Executive Director for Millie’s Bookshelf Org: When I shared my vision to create the first school library in Yazidi Iraq, people looked at me like I was crazy. But the world’s biggest challenges were never solved without somebody rolling up their sleeves and deciding to do the work. Why not you?
Sofiya Ballin, Award-Winning Journalist: Acknowledge and embrace that we are all connected. There are no human issues on this planet that belong “to those people” or “to those countries.” See yourself in all of humanity.
Wren Blae Zimmerman, Blind Equestrian Show Jumper: We must push ourselves to be open with one another by asking questions, listening, and discussing what may be uncomfortable, unknown, or difficult to understand. It is essential that we dispense of our preconceived notions and fears so that we can break down barriers, push boundaries, and recognize what needs change. Only then can we create vision and implement action that will truly make change.
Keely Cat-Wells, Entrepreneur and Disability Activist: Ask yourself, “What do I have to give?” Then, take a risk. When I became disabled, life was suddenly very different. I had to re-learn what I had to give in order to find purpose again. If you have an idea and know in your heart that it will improve your quality of life and the lives of others, go for it. Take the risk.
To celebrate these Changemakers, Aerie has teamed up with long-term partners of the brand including Jameela Jamil to lead powerful live conversations with a panel of these inspiring women on the brand’s YouTube channel.
Mark your calendar for October 11 at 7:30pm ET
Jameela Jamil will discuss the importance of self-care as an entrepreneur and organizer with Changemakers: Cat Lantigua, Founder of Goddess Council; Cassie DaLuzVieira-Manion and Chelsea Murray, Creators of Spoonies Unite; Haile Thomas, Founder of The Happy Org; and Katie Howland, Co-Founder of Millie’s Bookshelf.
The award winners by name are:
Wren Zimmerman, Cassandra DaLuzVieira-Manion and Chelsea Murray, Kendall Renee, Bella Lam, Brittany Sinitch, Candice Youngblood, Cat Lantigua, Haile Thomas, Jenna Zapata, Katie Howland, Katie Long, Katie Muckley, Kristine Rodriguez, Maya Caine, Mei-Li Hey, Valerie Weisler, Trinity Simone. Sofiya Abena Ballin, Rubini Naidu, Keely Cat-Wells and Ali Neff (given in loving memory).
For more details about the winners, click here.
About #AerieREAL: A leading global retailer in intimates, apparel, activewear and swim collections, Aerie is a pioneer in the body positivity and inclusivity movement. Since revolutionizing the industry in 2014 by becoming one of the first to forgo all retouching, the brand continues to push boundaries and challenge the status quo through spreading its #AerieREAL message that empowers all women to love their real selves. This spring, 2020 Role Models will inspire others to make this year the year of real change. Each Role Model will work alongside Aerie to encourage people around the world to be the change they want to see through leadership, advocacy, workshops and philanthropic partnerships.