Teen Activist Hannah Alper Sets Sights on Changing World
Hannah Alper, a 17-year-old advocate and blogger, is out to change the world. Her work has impacted many lives through her insight on climate change, social justice and anti-bullying. She has not only written a book titled Momentus, but she also speaks at conferences and TED Talks around the world. She also recently appeared in a documentary called CitizenKid: Earth Comes First, which raises awareness of climate change issues and empowers kids to take action. “I never thought that I was too young (to become an activist), I just did it,” she said when asked about her many accomplishments as a young teen. INBETWEEN sat down with Alper to talk about her experience as a blogger, activist and motivational speaker and what she plans on doing next.
In your blog and in your social media you are able to portray endless positivity. To what do you owe this enviable trait?
My parents have always taught me to be a passionate and positive person. I am always called passionate, positive and optimistic. With all of the issues going on today, I could not do what I do without bringing positivity. There are so many things that we can do even though there are a lot of problems in the world. But we can be that change together.
What is your biggest motivator?
My parents. They have been to Washington and Kenya with me. I can talk to them about the issues I care about and share my experiences with them. I would also say that those young people that make a difference in the world also motivate me. They make me feel as if I am not alone and that there is always something you can do to make a difference.
In a world where social media is on the rise and many young people are starting to gain their own voices, what would you say to young bloggers who want to make a difference?
Keep going. I truly believe that social media is the biggest and best tool that we can use to change the world. If anyone is struggling with getting people to pay attention and join a movement, you need to keep going. We always need more people to share what they care about and social media is one way that we can begin that change. Social media is a truly incredible place and kids often get looked down upon for using it, but there are so many good things about it. Social media is where I found my community.
In the wake of Covid-19, what lessons about unity, community and resilience do you think we as a society can take away from the past few months?
I believe in social connecting over physical distancing. We are only going to get through this together. We need to be there for others and for ourselves. The big thing that we are learning as a society is how creative and adaptive we are. We are stronger than we thought possible.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I want to work on a news network as a journalist. I want to raise awareness about all of the things going on in the world. Everything that I see on the news seems to be bad. I believe in the pursuit of truth, I want to tell the truth, and I want to continue to raise awareness about the truth.
What is the main message that you want people to take away from the documentary, CitizenKid: Earth Comes First?
My biggest hope is that people watch the show and believe that they have the capability and even the responsibility to make the world a little bit better than they found it and create positive change. It is the little things that add up to create big change. I am hoping that people look at me and the other incredible people in the show that are tackling issues and say, “If they can do it, I can do it too.”
What was the most valuable lesson that you yourself learned from this experience?
Every stop along the way – from attending the Nature-Based Climate Solutions Summit in Ottawa to meeting with the Fridays For Future team in Washington DC, to planting seedlings with students to an afternoon walking a snow-covered trail with an Indigenous Elder – reaffirmed my love for connecting and collaborating with like-minded people with similar interests, passions, and goals. There were so many moments where I had conversations with Cooper, Charlene, Sophia, and the other activists I worked with about what we love about what we do and how we manage the obstacles where I said “yeah. Me too.” It felt awesome. I was truly reminded of the power of community and connections.
By Alexandra Mantella