The advent of one’s 30th birthday naturally surfaces thoughts about identity… and age. Having (gracefully) leapt over this hurdle earlier this year, among my existential considerations of life and increasing awareness of human fragility, I’ve been asking the question: Am I still considered young? Of course it’s all relative, and ‘official’ definitions vary, but ultimately – as a millennial, digital native and early adopter – my spirit feels young, and so is the lens through which I see the world.

What does this youth lens look and feel like? In my 30 years lived-experience as a young person and 15 years experience working with young people – from teaching dance classes, to facilitating high school workshops and designing curricula – I see the youth lens as one of curiosity, radical optimism and energy. Young people are seekers of the new and improved. We are hardwired future-thinkers with a strong sense of responsibility. We dream without limits and bring with us a willingness to try new things. We embrace not getting it right the first time, because we have the drive and belief that challenges lead us one step closer to a solution. We are harnessing our “short attention span” and relabelling it as a restlessness for positive change – for which our appetite is insatiable.

As NCDFREE continues its work with hundreds of extraordinary young people around the world, we are taking pause on International Youth Day (but only a short one, there’s plenty of work to be done!) to capture the youth lens through stories of inspirational young peeps out there, working for change.

Today you’ll meet:

We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we enjoyed interviewing them!