Malala Yousafzai, who turned 18 over the past weekend, possesses an eloquence, courage, and purity of purpose that makes her a true role model for every young person. On July 12, her birthday and now officially Malala Day, she showed up in Syria to build a school for girls. She's an extraordinary heroine in an increasingly complicated and violent world.
Sharing Malala's story with your kids offers many excellent talking points. First and foremost is her courage and the importance of being an upstander in life. Learning to stick up for friends on the schoolyard is meaningful, as is the recognition that speaking the truth has a transformative power. Realizing that kids around the world do not have the chance to go to school can also be a big idea, and opens the door to talk about inequity – which has implications for life here in LA, and in the US, as well as around the world.
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
We all know the general details of her life – she is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, two years after she was shot in the head by the Taliban at age 15 for speaking out about why girls should be educated in her native country of Afghanistan. What's extraordinary about Malala is that she was speaking with a wisdom beyond her years before she was shot, and continues to do so today without a trace of anger for those who put a bullet in her head. She pursues a single path, and that is to educate herself and use her celebrity to encourage girls around the world to fight for their own education.
Malala is the subject of a new documentary by Davis Guggenheim (The Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) that will be released in October 2015. You can see the trailer here, and also can pledge to see the film. Titled He Named Me Malala, the film is inspired by Malala's autobiography and will help launch an international advocacy campaign by The Malala Fund, an organization which "empowers girls through quality secondary education to achieve their potential and inspire positive change in their communities."
You can click here to learn more about Malala on her website. We loved learning that she was named after a Pashtun heroine. She lives in England, where she goes to school herself. Her extracurricular activities are certainly going to get the attention of college admissions officers – she travels to war torn corners of the globe, standing in solidarity for the downtrodden and inspiring girls to demand an education! To get to know her a bit more, and learn how to participate in her advocacy, here is her recent campaign #BooksNotBullets that asked supporters to tweet photos of themselves with their favorite books in support of governments favoring education over war funding.
Students Stand With Malala
Students Stand With Malala is a program to fund free field trips for students to see the film in twenty five cities acroos the country, including Los Angeles. The program is available to all interested teachers and students on a first come, first served basis. This program will provide free tickets to a weekday screening during school hours at your local theater and will cover all costs associated with bus transportation and insurance. Click here to learn more. It is available on a first come, first served basis and will include a curriculum for use in the classroom.