Voices of Youth: What Makes a Difference

Youth Engaged 4 ChangeAdults can’t do it alone. Youth also play an important role in strengthening programs and improving youth outcomes. We created Youth Engaged 4 Change for teens and young adults who make change happen every day. Visit the site and share it with young change makers you know.

Below, young people share their experiences and perspectives on what makes a difference for youth engaged in change. Learn from their stories. While you are at it, take a minute to nominate young change makers in your community!

Featured Youth Voices

"It is foolish to believe that success can be achieved alone."

“If you know your passion and follow your dreams, you will make a positive difference in the world.”

“Change starts with one person and can grow really fast.”


“There’s nothing special about me; if I can do it, anyone can. I encourage any young person struggling with addiction to not be afraid to ask for help.”

Carly and Sean

“We enjoy hearing about their life experiences. It’s a rewarding experience for both us and our older adult partners.”


“We want to inspire kids from the community to help and let everyone know they can be involved.”


“Don’t give up on yourself and understand that no one can help you if you’re not willing to help yourself.”


"People should remember that foster youth are human beings, not paperwork…Don’t give up on us."


“I believe in the power of youth. I believe in the importance of including young people in decisions that will impact them.”


“My college experience has empowered me with knowledge so that I can be a successful artist and a successful student.”


“It is possible to have fun while working hard, no matter what field you work in!” 


“Advocating for access to higher education for undocumented and underrepresented youth is my passion.”


“Everyone meets a roadblock in life, but roadblocks are only installed to make you think and work harder than your usual, pushing you to excel well above your means.”


"When I look back at my past experiences, it amazes me what a youth from South Central [LA] was able to accomplish. I enjoy giving other youth the same feeling."


“Being an advocate for teen pregnancy prevention is an important part of my life. I have grown as an individual and I have been able to affect many people.”

Roberto and Clem

"What are ways that you help other people?"
"Inspiring them." 
-- Clem and Roberto talk about the impact of involvement with Special Olympics and inclusive youth leadership. 


"I’m trying my best to change misconceptions about gay people."


"Making a difference keeps me motivated to continue preventing teen pregnancy in my community."


“Education is power” is my motto. I’m on my way to being as successful as I hoped for and it was all because I had the opportunity to go to school, and the resources to stay in school. I plan to go so much further, too, because I'm tired of being homeless. 


“My weekly sessions with [my counselor] straightened my life out the most. It helped me gain control of my life [and] put me in a better position for the future.”


"It helps [to have] someone to talk to when I’m angry, when I’m mad, when I’m depressed and helps me with my family and my health."


“People always think that there’s never going to be help … talk to the school mental health counselor… to make you feel better …calm yourself down.”


"My goal is to...be the best role model that I can be for the tribe to show them that staying involved with the community is important for youth because it can have a major impact on their future and health."


"The word “disability” is not in the athletes' minds at all. We don’t see it as a disability. For myself, I see it as a unique ability."


"I’ve learned to feel comfortable with who I am, and to speak up not only for myself, but for others."


“I wanted to participate in a different kind of journey where I could experience and get a better understanding of strengths and hardships of communities first hand.”


"I was inspired to pursue advocacy work because there are so many youth who just need the tools to succeed."


"I was inspired to create MY LIFE...because there was really a lack of places that youth could share their voice, and make a positive difference in their lives and in the community."


"Being part of this youth board turned my anger for the foster care system into passion. I had a story but my peers did, too. It became less about me and more about a group of youth who many people forget about."


"I have always wanted to go back to places that I have been…and just talk to kids and tell them that…if you just use your voice and stay on track, your future will be brighter."


"I’m nongender, which for me, means that I don't identify as either male or female."


"My internship was a life-changing experience. We invited members of Congress to come and listen to what we had to say and hear our recommendations for how to improve foster care through lawmaking. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.”


"I am able to lead by example so that other people see that this is what foster youth could be and that foster youth are able to make it through the system being resilient."


"I owe the self-confidence to even apply for higher education to supportive adults…in my life."


“There is always a way to make things better. Take the time to hear what youth have to say.”


“A lot of people might think that you may not have good ideas because you're a teenager, but working hard makes a big difference as it shows [others] you have a voice and you are capable…”