I see myself as an ORDINARY boy with an EXTRAORDINARY desire to work for the promotion and protection of human rights, without which the world cannot achieve sustainable development. We are yet to grant every global citizen basic human rights such as equal opportunities to live, grow and prosper in the world. Admittedly, the state of human rights across the world is far from satisfactory, and this is what drives me to contribute towards making the world a more equitable and just place to live in.
The United Nations has set forth a broad set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that seek to further advance the realisation of human rights for all people everywhere, without discrimination. We have 17 goals with one global aim. We have to achieve these goals by year 2030, also known as Vision2030. The first time I became aware of UN SDGs was when I was 13 years old and was studying in Grade 9. I participated in the exhibition ‘Sajak Naagrik, Samridh Samaaj’ (Vigilant Citizen, Capable Society), organised by my school Ahlcon International, New Delhi in the year 2016.
Inspired by the exhibition’s message to spread the word about SDGs, I created short YouTube videos on each of the 17 goals of sustainable development and addressing various social issues like Girl Child Education, Bullying, Climate change etc. Apart from YouTube, I also hosted various talk shows, conducted surveys and campaigns, hosted Skype sessions with students in different countries and motivated them to take action at local and global levels.
Simultaneously, I also founded a Twitter community @SDGsForChildren in 2017 to give the unique platform to children across the globe to CONNECT, CREATE and COLLABORATE for a better and sustainable world. Since then the community has not only impacted millions of children but also inspired many educators to initiate their journey of SDGs in their classrooms. SDGs For Children is now incorporated under the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporation Act to support Agenda 2030 globally. (http://www.sdgsforchildren.org)
I take pride in my role as one of the pioneer Indian Ambassador for the TeachSDGs project, initiated by the Global Goals Education Task Force, a volunteers-based worldwide network of teachers established in 2017. I am the only Student Ambassador among the first group of over 100 distinguished global educators. I share my perspective and ideas with the members. I am also an active member of the TeachSDGs UN Communication Committee. I have also been selected as Student Ambassador for various other global projects like SOS4LoveProject, Climate Action, Goals Project, and Looking 2020, Socio Story, Kindness Project etc.
I have also been recognised as ‘Global Goals Champion’ by GSMA that represents the interests of nearly 800 mobile operators worldwide and Project Everyone, a non-profit organisation, to spread the global campaign – ‘SDGs in Action’. I am appointed as the AFI (Ariel Foundation International) Youth Ambassador and their Youth Representative at United Nations.
To me, there cannot be anything greater than serving humanity. I consider myself the most fortunate child that my volunteering efforts received recognition from no less an institution than the United Nations when I was invited to represent India as the Indian Youth Ambassador at the 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit, staged from August 24-26, 2017 at the UN headquarters, New York. The moment I reached the global podium, which happened to be on the day of my 15th birthday, all my nervousness vanished. Rather I felt zeal to speak unstopped about Human Rights that are actually so important for all human beings but unfortunately have been severely undermined in many of the poor nations.
My speech on Human Rights at the UN received a standing ovation from the distinguished gathering. I felt myself on top of the world, after discovering a meaning in my life. For the very first time, I saw so many people doing so much across the globe, which made me contribute similarly to make this world one, giant home for humanity.
Thereafter, I participated in WIPRO-XUB Sustainability Summit, hosted by Xavier School of Sustainability (XSoS), Bhubaneshwar, India and was bestowed with the award for the best paper and video presentation on Sustainability. I was in Grade 10 at that time and the event happened just two weeks before my board exams. Thanks to my mentors at school and my parents who always helped me and motivated me to continue my journey in spite of all the hurdles and the challenges.
In the year 2018 when I was 16 years old, I thought of penning down my own book, which could help others to know more about UN SDGs and I started working on my debut book, ‘Shaping A Fairer World with SDGs and Human Rights’. The book is the culmination of my experiences, initiatives and intense involvement in social transformation. The book graphically disseminates information about SDGs and Human Rights with engaging design and artwork. In witty, playful and colourfully tabulated content, the book narrates the stories of those who have contributed towards new ideas and innovative narratives to effect real change. It has now become part of daily curriculum and is being used as a daily reference guide for teaching United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in many of the classrooms across various countries.
One of the educators in Colorado posted the review on Amazon – “ 'Shaping a Fairer World with SDGs and Human Rights’ is a next generation guidebook that provides both students and teachers with a foundation to effectively engage in Vision 2030. In addition to providing the history/timeline of the creation of the SDG movement by the UN, this consciousness-raising resource includes a breakdown of each SDG and its targets, relevant vocabulary and concepts, inspiring stories, globally - minded activities, interactive visualisations, awareness-building mind maps and so much more. If you care about our people, our planet, and our future, you won’t miss this book. Highest recommendation.”
Another initiative under SDGs For Children organisation is my podcast– ‘Shaping A Fairer World’. The podcast is an attempt to connect educators, students and parents together and to share their voices and unheard-of stories across the globe. I believe, “Nothing can stand in the way of the power of voices calling for CHANGE.”
Recently I received the Princess Diana Award for my exceptional work to demonstrate the ability to inspire and mobilise new generations to serve their communities. I have been acknowledged as one of the Most Influential Young Change Makers around the world. The Diana Award is the longest running award given to outstanding young people for selflessly creating and sustaining positive social change in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, UK.
To sum up, I am blessed that my journey of childhood happened to be at Ahlcon International School where students get good exposure beyond academics. I am really grateful to my Principal, teachers, mentors and my parents for actually believing in my ideas and me. They have shown a never-ending trust in my will and capacity to work for human rights and make a difference in the lives of people.
My desire to make a difference in the lives of less privileged people has kept me going. I feel greatly inspired by these golden words of legendary anti-apartheid crusader, Nelson Mandela:
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.”
About The Author :
Ayush Chopra is Founder, SDGs For Children.
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