In the Changemaker blog series, we are spotlighting incredible individuals that embody our mission: working towards the greater good. These young Changemakers aren’t letting their age stop them from educating people of all generations on some of the most important issues in today’s society. By using their voices to promote social change, they represent the power that youth have to make a difference.
Hannah Alper is a young Canadian author, public speaker and blogger leading the way to global change. Alper's primary goal is to inspire others to get involved in a cause they believe in. Her journey began with a personal blog titled "Call Me Hannah" which highlighted environmental and social issues. Since then, Alper has been a key speaker at non-profit events such as Free the Children and WE Day as well as published her first book "Momentus". Her writing and activism ultimately propelled her into the public eye as one of the youngest changemakers of her generation.
What advice would you give someone who wants to find their passion and how did you find yours?
A lot of it is learning and going through experiences. It's about researching and finding those issues that spark a change in you. Social media is amazing because there are many people that talk about issues on the internet now, and so if you want to find what you're passionate about, look online. There's this formula that I always use, it's called issue + gift = change. So, you find your issue, that's that cause that you're passionate about, that thing that sparks that fire in you, and you find your gift, that's what your talent is and what you're good at. For me, it's writing and public speaking and compassion. There are so many ways where you can combine your issue and your gift and you can create change. My other advice is to find your community. Find those people that have the same interests as you and are passionate about the same things. It's really incredible when you see the change that more than one person can make. When one person makes a difference it's really great, but it doesn't make as big of an impact than when you did it with other people who are passionate about the same things.
You went from writing blogs to writing a book, what triggered that?
I was really lucky to be approached two years ago by Steve Brown, who is the CEO of Nelson Education. I had just come off a stage from doing a keynote presentation in front of Microsoft. Steve came to me and said, "I love your message, I love everything that you do, and I want you to write a book and I want to publish it." I was in 8th grade at the time and it was really surreal to me that he was asking me to do this. I thought about it and decided to interview 19 of my role models for it. I really believe that role models can guide you into your journey as a change-maker. Such a key part of my journey has been role models. I interviewed incredible people like Lilly Singh, an incredible achiever, actor Lily Collins, Blake Mycoskie, the CEO of Toms, Greg Kilberguer, Malala Yousafzai. I interviewed these people because they're my role models and so it's been a whirlwind experience but it was really cool.
Do you think the chance to interview your own role models changed the trajectory of your life and or helped shape your views?
I learned so much from every single interview that I did. These were people that I had never talked to before like Corinne Hindes of Warm Winters, founded by her and her best friend. They collect clothing like gloves and jackets and hats and scarves from the lost and found ski resorts and they give that to the homeless. Something I learned from her is how to create conversations with people who are experiencing homelessness. I also learned from her that you don't call people who experience homelessness just homeless people, you call them people who are experiencing homelessness. What I learned from her is that they're people and they deserve the same respect and dignity as anyone else. There is something I learned from every single person. At the end of every interview, I asked each person what their mantra is, what their words to live by is. I got amazing answers from people and I've taken all those mantras and I have implemented them in my everyday life. The best part of my experience of writing this book was just talking to those people. Talking to Malala Yousafzai was just really reigniting my spark. She's amazing and talking about empowerment, education and young people being leaders in the world was just so incredible.
Looking forward, where do you see yourself going from here?
Right now, I'm finding more issues that I am passionate about and looking for more opportunities to share what I love. I am learning and writing and igniting that spark and I am looking for more ways to empower people. Something I want to do long long term is work at CNN. I want to be the next Anderson Copper, maybe go to NYU at some point for journalism.
What advice would you give someone that wants to get into activism and doesn't know where to start?
Definitely look for those organizations and the people and the resources who are aligned with the issue that you're passionate about. An organization I love is "Do Something" because they are invested in every single issue that you can think of and they have different campaigns that consider if you have a week to plan or if you have a month to plan. The last thing is to know that you do have the power to make a difference. No matter how young you or old you are, how much money you have, where you live and no matter the experiences you've been through, you can create change and you can make the world a better place. Anyone can and anyone should.
What would you say the role of brands is now and how do you feel it should change?
My generation sees different brands every single day and so it's important for us that when we're buying a product it does have a purpose. I'm speaking for the people that I am involved with in making a difference. For me and my community of change-makers, it's having a product with a purpose and that's what I love about this brand (JOGGO) is that it is fair trade and it is empowering women. Just giving them that income, that's something that is so important. Products with purpose are something I love. I really believe in conscious consumerism and I am trying to stop buying products that I know are not good for me, the environment or people around the world.
Hannah Alper remains an active writer, learner and motivational speaker who challenges people to look beyond their limitations. For Alper, environmental and social change begins with a sense of community and passion. Her age, along with her talent, makes her a unique and inspirational changemaker that leads by example. To learn more about Hannah follow her blog www.callmehannah.ca