Have Your Say - Ban The Bead

Hey there everyone!

Today I have a really special post from a lovely girl called Em who messaged me asking is she could guest post on my blog. She's really passionate about animals and the environment, so of course I said yes! If you would like to see more of Em's writing then please go to her beautiful blog www.mytumblrlifee.blogspot.ca for more posts. But for now, Em, take it away! 

Hi everyone!  My name is Em and my blog is called My Tumblr Life.  I have always wanted to be a blogger as I have a real passion for writing.  In July I started my writing posts on my blog.  I write posts about fashion/beauty, adventures, food and anything else that's on my mind!  Also a big thank you goes out to Sarah for putting up this post of mine.  Happy reading!

Lush recently launched the #BantheBead campaign and I think that it is so amazing.  This campaign is trying to eliminate micro beads (those little blue beads found in things like toothpaste and body scrub) from products.  What ends up happening is that these beads get washed down the sink and tub and cannot be filtered out of the water.  Therefore these tiny beads end up in lakes and rivers where fish mistake them for food.  If the fish consume these beads they usually die because they are not actual food.  One tube of scrub can contain more then 300,000 beads that end up in our waterways.  So, I think that everyone one should check there products at home for them.  On the label they are listed as polyethylenepolyethylene terephthalate or polypropylene.  Products such as Bath and Body Works hand soap, most toothpastes and foot scrubs most likely contain these beads.  So, go help out the fish, save the waterways and BAN THE BEADS!







      

     

Thank you so much Em, that's brilliant that you are so passionate about the environment! If you're a young person who has something to say about our world and would like to guest post, I would love to hear from you! Just click on the 'Have your say' banner at the top of the page and fill in the form to send me a message. 

Love you all, 

Sarah xx

It's Time To Make Your Mark - Vote in the largest youth referendum

Hey everyone! :)

Today I really want to talk about something super exciting that is happening in the next six weeks that you can all get involved in. As some of you may know if you've been following this blog for a while I stood for election into the UK Youth Parliament late last year, and although I wasn't elected I have kept close links with the organisation through my work as a youth councillor. Well, every year the UK Youth Parliament conducts a huge referendum of 11-18 year olds to find out what issues young people are passionate about. The results of this referendum decide what topics the UK Youth Parliament campaign on in the next year.

There are ten issues that you can vote on, you have to pick ONE that you feel most strongly about. The ten topics are:

1. The end of austerity and child poverty.

2. A curriculum to prepare us for life.

3. Extended Special Educational Needs support.

4. Make public transport cheaper and more accessible.

5. Give 16 and 17 year olds the vote.

6. Mental health services for young people should be improved.

7. Tackling racism and religious discrimination.

8. Tackle climate change.

9. Fund our youth services, don't cut them.

10. Everyone should be paid the living wage (£7.85 an hour or  £9.15 an hour in London)

Last year 875,000 11-18 year olds took part, this year the aim is to reach a staggering 1 MILLION young people. However this can only be achieved with your help as we need as much help as we can get. Without turning this into an extremely long and boring post what I'm basically trying to tell you to do is VOTE VOTE VOTE! It might not seem like a very big deal right this second but by selecting which issue you feel most strongly about you can contribute to the national voice of all young people!

You can vote either through your school or online. Considering that it's still the summer holidays its probably going to be easier for most of you to vote online so head to this link now: http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark/

If you would like to get really active in the campaign then you can become a Make Your Mark Champion which basically just means that you should be encouraging all your friends and people at your school to vote, and there are prizes for the people that get the most people to vote, just saying ;). Click this link to register as a make your mark champion: http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/make-your-mark/mark-your-mark-champion/

Hope you enjoyed that short little post and that you tell all your friends to vote, they have until October to do it so there's really no excuse! Sorry I haven't been updating as regularly as I said I would be, but a couple of exciting things have happened in the last few weeks (unfortunately I'm not allowed to tell you guys yet).

Love you all and stop by next Sunday for my top tips to start an activism group at your school!

Sarah xx :)




6 EASY ways to be more eco friendly as a teenager


Woohoo! It's the summer holidays and I couldn't be happier. As much as I do appreciate my education (well most of the time...;)) I am really looking forward to spending my days sunbathing (hopefully the British weather will hold up, fingers crossed!) instead of being stuck in a classroom all day. Besides, I'm really starting to gain momentum with writing blog posts and I'm planning to be updating 2-3 times every week this summer! At least every Tuesday and Thursday, and if you're lucky there might be a bonus post on a Sunday as well.

Onto the main topic of today's post. Recently I've been trying really hard to become more eco friendly, however it often isn't easy when we live in such a wasteful society - especially when you're a teenager (and therefore most likely not the person making most of the main decisions about what goes on in your house.). Sooooo, I've compiled a list of 5 EASY ways you can be a little bit more environmentally friendly as a teenager - ENJOY!

-Print double sided 
Pretty self explanatory, but important none the less! You can actually change your printers default settings to print double sided instead of single sided. This is such a useful tip, especially when printing out long essays or stories etc, you can essentially HALF the amount of paper you're using!

-Take showers not baths
By having a 5-10 minute shower instead of having a bath you could save approx between 10-20 gallons of water every time you wash. That is the same amount of water you should be drinking in about 40 days (not that you should be drinking bath water though...:))!

-Avoid disposable food containers
This is something super simple that you can do to reduce how much you are throwing away. If you take a packed lunch with you to school, try putting everything into tupperware containers (without using foil or cling film!). I have a really great lunchbox (I can't remember where I bought it - sorry!) that has about 3 different sections in it. I might have pasta salad in one section, some trail mix in one and some grapes in the other or something like that. Try to avoid foods that have lots of packaging like crisps or chocolate bars (especially since these are usually individually packed inside a bigger multipack bag!). Most foods that have less packaging like the ones I suggested are usually less processed and a lot healthier as well, so you'll be doing yourself a favour too.

Another REALLY easy thing you can do is to carry around a reusable water bottle or flask with your chosen drink instead of constantly buying new bottles of water. There is nothing wrong with tap water and you might actually save some money doing this as well! If you are really serious about creating less waste, you can even take your own flask into coffeeshops when getting a takeaway and ask them to put your drink in there instead of a paper cup.

-Walk or get public transport to school
I know, we've all heard this one a million times before, but that's only because it's true. Did you know that by walking or biking to school you could save 328 pounds of Co2 every year and that by getting public transport you could save 984 pounds of Co2 every year - that's the equivalent to driving 350 or 1,050 miles. If you can't walk or get public transport you could try setting up a car share with some of your friends as this will also reduce your carbon footprint.

-Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
When I wanted to start becoming more environmentally conscious I calculated my carbon footprint and found it to be really useful! This specific calculator: http://www.epa.gov/climatestudents/calc/index.html#calc=instructions is particularly good as it is set out like a survey and is tailored to teenagers and young people. Below you can see a screenshot of my carbon footprint results which I was quite happy about, although there are DEFINITELY things I still need to work on.



By calculating your carbon footprint you can see really clearly how much waste you are creating and how much waste you are saving. I know that for me it definitely gave a really good starting point to figure out where I was making mistakes!

-Be A Source Of Inspiration!
Encourage your friends and family to be more conscious about environmental issues, a lot of people wrongly assume that just because we aren't directly feeling the effects of global warming and the suchlike right this second, that it's never going to happen. Scientists now predict that unless we drastically change our ways, global warming could be well under way by 2050. One person can't always make a difference, but lots of people together can, so get people involved! Tell them about what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint and speak to people about why it's important to be more environmentally friendly. In situations like these, nothing works better than good old fashioned word of mouth!

Sarah xx

This Blog Needs YOU!

Hello teenagers of the 21st century!

Recently I've been trying to think of more ways to help refresh this blog and make it more interactive between me and you, my readers, and I think I've found quite a good idea!

This is a blog that is all about helping teenagers and young people to make the world a better place. I've been sharing my experiences and stories on this topic for a while now, but I think it would be amazing to get some different voices on this blog apart from just me.

So, if you are a teenager or young person (I'm counting this as anyone aged 10-20) who has been involved in any kind of social action project, or you just are really passionate about a particular social issue, I would love to hear from you! I am hoping that if I get at least a few replies it could become a regular feature on here (maybe once a month?) to have guest posts from other passionate young people.

If you are interested in guest posting on here then please contact me! You do not need to have a blog (but if you do that's fine as well), you just need to be interested in getting your voice out there! I would really appreciate anyone who wants to guest post as I think it will be really refreshing to get different people's stories and views.

Feel free to use any of my social media accounts (I'm @sarahzsay on everything), to leave a comment below or to email me at sarahzsay@mail.com to contact me.

Sorry this is short, I just really wanted to get this out there. There should be a couple more posts up in the next week though as school is coming to a close and I have more time and ideas. Anyway hope you are all enjoying summer and have a great day!

Sarah xx :)

EDIT: As some of you may have noticed, I've added a new 'HAVE YOUR SAY' section in the top banner. If you click on it you'll find a contact form which you can use to tell me all about the amazing social action you've been doing. This is your chance to get your voice heard so please don't be shy, no matter how big or small your project I would LOVE to hear from you! My favourite stories will be featured on here in a special column every month called 'Have Your Say'! xxx


Volunteer Week & My Social Action Story (How this blog came about!)

Hello teenagers of the 21st century!

I have literally just got back from my monthly Youth Council meeting which went brilliantly, we are really starting to make progress with our projects and it looks like I'm in for a busy month! I am meeting with the Children's Safeguarding Board for my area to push forward gender equality and anti bullying campaigns as well as attending the Transport Forum to present the Fixers project I'm doing (that I talked about here and here) on public transport! There is also a chance that I will be travelling to London on the 17th of June for the mass lobby of parliament for climate change which if I find a way to get there (need to convince my school that we should all get the train up as part of my Overcoming Injustice group!) will be an incredible opportunity!

Anyway today I want to talk about how I got involved in social action and volunteering in honour of the fact that it's national Volunteer Week. I hope my story (not that it's a particularly exciting one :))  will maybe help to show you that no matter who you are you can help to make the world a nicer place.

I've been involved in social action for about 3 years and volunteering for about 1, and I can honestly say that I'm not the same person I am now as I was when I started to be involved in helping others.
It all started when I decided to join my school's active Student Council around three years back, helping to get students passionate about making the world a better place. However before long I realised that I could take the skills I'd been using inside school outside of school and into the real world.

I first realised this when in June 2013 I was picked to represent my school by travelling to no 10 Downing Street with the 'IF Campaign' which is a campaign for ending global hunger. On that day I saw so many like minded young people who were helping to change their communities for the better and I knew that I wanted to help do that too! It was also an incredible experience to be able to sit in a question and answer session with the Prime Minister and hear from his own mouth what the UK's place in ending world hunger is.

Looking back that day I felt as if I was a part of something really special, I saw with the own eyes the effects of what my actions at school were on others through meeting the campaign leaders and talking to them about how ordinary people like me could make a difference. From that day forward I vowed to get more involved in social action, and in the last three years that journey has taken me from WeDay to starting a campaigning group at my school to taking part in international campaigns like 'WE ARE SILENT' and even more!

Through being involved in social action I have gained so much. I used to be so so so shy but getting involved has helped me to find my voice and has given me the courage to stand in front of hundreds of people to give speeches. It's this confidence that also led me to start volunteering in my spare time!

The main volunteering I do is through being involved in my local youth council where I help to represent all the young people in my area through helping to influence decision makers when they are making choices that effect the lives of young people. It's also our job to attend lot's of meetings, events and start our own projects and campaigns. When groups and organisations want young people's opinions on something (e.g. I'm currently working with the NHS to help them with their clinical commissioning review of young people) they often come to us too. However apart from this I'm also known to hang out at regular charity events and fundraisers (bake sales are a favourite of mine ;) *wistfully thinks about cake*).

As it's volunteer week this week my challenge for you is to either say a huge thank you to someone in your life who volunteers as I'm sure what they're doing is amazing or to get out there yourself and try some volunteering! I promise you it's so rewarding and you will meet so many incredible and inspiring people. The people I meet through being involved in social action and volunteering is probably my favourite part (alongside actually seeing what difference you are making of course!).

And all that is kind of how this blog came about too, earlier this year I wanted to start sharing my experiences of social action with other young people and possibly help to encourage some people to get involved, even if it's only in a small way. I hope you guys liked that slightly different post and that you are all having an awesome day!

Sarah xx











Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda Review & Rant

Hello teenagers of the 21st century!

First off, this book: O-M-FREAKING-G. Where do I begin. Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda. I can't even. I was originally going to be reviewing Carrie Fletcher's 'What I know Now' today (I still loved it and I'll be reviewing at a later date), but I just finished reading Simon VS this afternoon and couldn't resist writing a little review for it. I don't normally do book reviews on this blog, however I'm a huge bookworm (always have been since I was tiny, I would rather sit in the library at break times reading that go outside... Don't judge me...) and books are something I really really love, so I thought 'why not?'. And besides, I do have a point to make about something in relation to the book which is a bit more in line with what I normally write, but all will be revealed in a minute!

Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda Review

So what exactly is it it about this book that turns me into a mushy gooey eyed fangirl? Well, it revolves around Simon, a nerdy sixteen year old Oreo-Cookie-enthusiast who is struggling with coming out as gay to his friends and family. And Blue, Simon's anonymous online confidant, who is in Simon's year at school and is also gay. The chapters alternate between Simon's POV in real life (well real fictional life...;)) and Simon and Blue's emails to each other.

As the book develops you get to see Blue and Simon's relationship flourish through their emails from just chatting, to flirting, to slowly falling in love with each other. It's honestly one of the cutest teen romances I've ever read (an trust me when I say I've read A LOT), and although they are falling in love anonymously over email this doesn't take away from the realistic-ness of the whole story. In fact I actually loved that they fell in love without knowing who they both were in real life, as this meant they actually fell for the personality and character of the person instead of looks and appearances.

Although this book is a coming out story, I liked how it wasn't cliched and didn't take over the whole plot. In fact, my absolute favourite thing about this book is that it didn't make the two main characters being gay a huge deal. This whole book is a true testament to the fact that love is love no matter what and that it doesn't matter what your sexuality is. The love story was just like any other love story I've read (an extremely cute one at that), the two characters just happened to be two boys.

However, as much as I'm going on about how much of a cutie patootie love story this is, Simon does get a fair bit of stick from his classmates when they find out that he's gay. This is what I want to talk about as it's something that I see happening in my school and on the internet quite a lot. In the book and in real life it's not so much hardcore bullying that occurs most, it's the tiny comments and remarks made day to day that are a huge problem. In recent years we as a society have come on leaps and bounds with LBGTQ+ awareness and rights, however there is one thing that continues to annoy me almost everyday.

It's when people use the word gay as an insult. I'm talking about the 'OMG that was so gay!' 'Uhhh this homework is so gay.' etc. I feel as if its become normal to use the word gay as an insult and this is simply not acceptable, so let me clear one or two things up for everyone:

When it's okay to say gay
Image from Instagram
Now I really don't want to be a party pooper here but it is something that relentlessly gets on my nerves and I do find myself having to spend more time than I should have to pointing out to people that gay is not in fact an insult. The outcome of this is often that the person apologises and in my experience calling people out for a misuse of language like this often does help to remind people that what they are doing is wrong! So my advice is that if you see someone using the word gay as an insult or to describe someone / something that isn't a man that's attracted to other men please please please say something! The only way we can fix these things is if we all make a conscious effort to help resolve the issue at hand (this goes for most things).

Anyway, I really hope you decide to go out and buy this book. It only came out a couple of months ago and I'm crossing all my fingers and toes that it gets the attention it deserves as it really is brilliantly written and a beautiful story. I'm so happy that this year I'm seeing more and more YA books tackling important issues such as All The Bright Places which talks about depression and The Art Of Being Normal which covers transgender issues (and now of course Simon VS Th Homo Sapiens Agenda!). We are working towards a YA genre (and hopefully a world!) that includes everyone regardless of gender identity, sexuality, race etc and that makes me very very happy!

Sarah xx

P.S. Next week I am in Paris (you have no idea how much I'm looking forward to it, we are going to Disney World and I CAN'T WAIT:)) so I don't know if I'll have any posts up unless I decide to write one and schedule it for when I'm away. However on the plus side once I get back I'll have lots and lots of pretty pictures of The Eiffel Tower, macarons, cute Parisian bookshops and Disney so there will most definitely be a picture heavy blog post once I get back! :) xxxx

Young People In Politics

Hello teenagers of the 21st century,

POLITICS. I know, yawn worthy right? Wrong. 

Unless you've been living under a rock, you should be very, very aware that in only 8 days time we are having a general election! Meaning that potentially in just over a weeks time we could be sat here in the UK with completely different people in power.

'I should care about that because?', you might be asking. Well, to put that into perspective, depending on who wins the general election next week, the amount of money you have to pay to go to university, whether your local youth club stays open, what GSCEs and A-Levels you can take, the age you have to be to vote (to name just a few), could be completely different! 

During the run up to the election there have been various debates going on which you have probably been aware of. But last night there was a very special and important debate which you probably didn't know about: The Youth Leaders Debate!

The first ever general election debate from young people, for young people. It wasn't broadcast on TV (which is such a shame) rather held online in a hard to reach corner of the Channel Four website, but it was BRILLIANT none the less.

Youth Leaders Debate

Image from Youth Media Agency

Passionate young people from the Greens, UKIP, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems, Labour and Conservative all took to the stage in an hour and a half long showdown (like how I'm making this sound really dramatic). 

It was great because everyone in the audience was a young person and all questions were from young people, not a single old man in a suit in sight! Everything we care about was discussed: NHS, Votes At 16, Trident, Tuition Fees, Living Costs, the lot. It was so different to the regular televised debates from the adult leaders, for once there was actually some humour in there, it was fun, refreshing and above all inspiring! 

In this country we have a so many young people that feel really passionately about the world around them, that's AMAZING and something I feel we really need to showcase. Next time I would love to see the youth leaders debate televised. I feel that if it had of been, many more people would've been able to watch it and it would have hugely helped decrease the myth that we are all apathetic about politics! 

If you didn't see it last night the I HIGHLY recommend that you go and watch it. Especially if you're a teenager who hasn't been following the election, as I think it could serve as a great introduction to some of the issues facing young people, and where the different parties stand on them! http://www.channel4.com/programmes/youth-leaders-debate

Now, a lot of you will be under 18 like me, and therefore not able to vote on May 7th. So what can we do to have our say? It's really easy to think that just because you don't have the vote, that you can't get involved in the world of politics. I'm only 13, yet I still do quite a lot for representing young people in politics, so I've complied a little list of things you can do to get involved!

Join A Youth Council / Youth Parliament
This is possibly one of the best decisions I ever made. Some of you may know that earlier this year I stood as a candidate to become a youth MP for my area (Fun Fact: The youth leader for the Greens is a former Member of Youth Parliament!). I was unfortunately unsuccessful :(, however in the process I got to experience a real political election and managed to engage with so many other young people who were all just as passionate about politics as me! I've since stayed on at my local youth council, where I attend monthly meetings and events where I get to tell people about all the issues young people in my local constituency care about, and share my views and opinions!

You might be wondering how you can get involved in such groups, and really it's not difficult at all! Most likely you will need to check your local councils website and check the 'youth activities' section, where there should be contact information for the relevant people you need to speak to. If there's nothing on the website it might be worth giving your local council a ring to see what's up. The only problem might be if your area doesn't have a youth council (most do though!), but this could be a great opportunity to create one of your own! If you can get enough people together and pledge it to your local council, or do it through your school / college then that would be fantastic!

Join In The Conversation On Social Media
I often used to refrain from sharing political thoughts on my social media for fear that I would suddenly be inundated with people wanting to get in a huge argument with me! However once I realised that as long as you're polite, most people are happy to see young people engaging and won't mind having the odd chit chat about political issues!

Another thing which is brilliant is Twitter Chats, they are usually hosted by larger users, last around 30-60 minutes and have the aim of discussing a particular topic or question. They are happening all the time and it's a great way to find other people who are also interested in the chosen topic (this tip can be used for anything, not just politics!). If you have a blog or youtube channel this can also be a good way to engage with possible new readers / viewers (just saying ;))!

For example there was a Twitter Chat hosted by @emilymatters just after the youth leaders debate yesterday which I engaged in. Often Twitter Chats happen right after an event, so it's a good way of seeing what everyone's first impressions of something are!

Use Your Voice 
No, I don't want you to literally stand on top a building shouting through a megaphone! I mean that if there's something that you feel passionately about, there are things you can do to help change whatever it is that you don't like. I'm part of a group at my school called 'Overcoming Injustice' or 'Oi!' for short! We campaign regularly on different topics. Sometimes it's something just in the UK, like the amount of people using food banks (not that this doesn't happen all over the world though), and other times it's about something global, like the awful earthquake in Nepal that happened recently.

Amongst our activities we've been writing to the government every week for just over three years, and you would be surprised with how many responses we get back! A couple of weeks ago we even had a reply directly from David Cameron! This is exactly the kind of thing you could easily set up at your school or college! Our club happens on a Wednesday lunchtime for about 30 minutes: someone writes the letter, everyone attending copies it out and the all get sent to number 10, and as it's student led it practically runs itself! I would be more than happy to write a little post on the exact practicalities of it all if anyone would like to set up a similar group as it's proved extremely effective!

Finally, for those of you who can vote: PLEASE TURN OUT TO VOTE NEXT THURSDAY! Even if you don't agree with any of the parties standing in your constituency, it's better to turn up and spoil your ballot that not turn up at all, that way you're still standing for something!

I realise this post was really long so I hope you managed to take all the information in, but as I said in my last post I really wanted to talk about the General Election and Youth Politics stuff so this was actually a really fun post to write! Feel free to tweet me @sarahzsay or leave a comment below (I practically live online so I will DEFINITELY reply!) and hope you are having an awesome day!

Sarah xx



The 'Perfect' Body

Hello teenagers of the 21st century!

(watch video before reading!)



I've been following Cassey Ho of Blogilates for just under a year, I adore her workouts and she has THE MOST friendly and fun attitude towards healthy living. For those of you who don't have the foggiest who she is (shame on you because she is legit QUEEN), she's one of the biggest youtubers on the fitness scene with just over 2 million subscribers and originally rose to fame with her 10 minute pilates videos (which are super effective and really difficult in a good way - I die).

Cassey has always seemed like such a happy and positive energy, her advice is never anything but encouraging and the the best of my knowledge and research she has never promoted any kind of unhealthy lifestyle. However, in the last week or two I've seen her being hated on a considerable amount. Amongst the various form of hate I've seen 11 minute long videos solely dedicated to breaking down her entire life from diet to exercise regime, even her childhood. There are people calling her diet 'anorexic' (which btw is a very real condition which effects very real people and isn't a term that should just be thrown around), whilst I've seen tweets and instagram comments stating things like "If you're such a good personal trainer, why don't you have a six pack' or 'Eww. Call that a thigh gap, they are practically touching'.

I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to've worked your butt off to create an amazing fitness community with millions of followers, only to have it all thrown back in your face by a couple of idiots who don't even know you. To the few people out there making these comments: YOUR NEGATIVITY HAS NO PLACE ON THE INTERNET. Opinions? Yes. Insights? Yes. Cyberbullying? No.

It makes me so angry to know that some people think they can do whatever they like online just because no one can see their face. It does not make you 'cool' to send a hateful tweet or post a disrespectful youtube video, it makes you a coward. I bet 99% of people making hateful comments on the internet would never have the guts to say it to the face of the person they are insulting. Cyberbullying is such a huge issue, and one I don't think I'll be able to cover fully in this short post, especially as I want to get to talking about what good has come out of this whole situation. However let me just say this: I have nothing against people having OPINIONS. I'm just asking you not to be ignorant when expressing them.

However, moving swiftly on, despite all this I'm super happy to say that Cassey (being the incredible person she is) has managed to turn all this hate and negative energy into something beautiful and thought provoking. The video above, entitled 'The Perfect Body', is one of the most real and inspiring short films I've seen in a long time.

This whole concept of being able to literally photoshop yourself into 'the perfect body' speaks to me in so many ways. I cannot tell you how many times I've wished I was taller, or had clearer skin, or had smaller thighs. Sometimes I want nothing more than to 'photoshop' myself. But would this make me happy? Probably not. The things that really make me happy are the small and simple things: like my best friends, a big bowl of ben and jerry's, or a particularly good episode of Doctor Who.

Even at age 13, I've battled with coming to terms with my body type and the way I look. I've had to accept that I will never be tall and skinny like a model, rather I will always be curvier - and that's okay!

I don't think anyone is ever 100% happy with the way they look, it's just human nature. There has been a bit on controversy in the comments of the video as to whether Cassey was implying that her goals are to lose weight due to the 'what would you change?' tagline, however I think the video was intended to just serve as a creative way to express how sometimes peoples comments can get to you so much you end up feeling like you need to change who you are in order to make the haters happy.

As teenagers we're constantly under pressure from society to constantly meet expectations. We're expected to have this perfect balanced life with good grades, friendships, socialising, studying, out of school clubs and increasingly the pressure to look perfect. But let me tell you a little secret: perfection does not exist. There, I've said it. Perfection. Does. Not. Exist.

You're never going to be amazing at everything, but you will be amazing at something that no one else is. It's unlikely that you will ever love everything about yourself, but that doesn't matter because you are you. Even though perfection does not exist, happiness does. So that's my final advice for today:

Do what makes you happy.

If you want to change something about yourself, do it because it's what you truly want it for yourself. Dye your hair purple if that's what makes you happy. Completely change your wardrobe. Start jogging. Do it. But do it because it's something that will make you happy, not because some idiot on the internet said you were looking a bit chubby.

Thank you for reading all the way to here and I'm so sorry if this post wasn't of the best quality and got a bit rant-y, I just had a couple of things to get off my chest! In the comments tell me one thing that you WOULDN'T change about yourself!

Love you all,
Sarah xx:)






Lessons Learnt From A Day Of Silence

Hello teenagers of the 21st century (and other passers by!),


Yes you read the title right. Sarah Trott, aka one of the most annoyingly talkative  people you will ever have the pleasure (or displeasure I suppose) of meeting didn't talk for AN ENTIRE DAY. If you read my blogpost from a couple of weeks ago (this one: http://www.sarahssay.com/2015/03/huge-mega-update.html#.VTFqFVwrjzI) then you will of noticed that I said that I'd be going silent today as part of the 'We Are Silent' movement founded by Free The Children. So that's exactly what I did...

The idea behind this campaign is to raise a voice for the voiceless. You go silent for a day to raise awareness for an issue you are particularly passionate about about. That might be that 60 million children aren't in school, the fact that 13.1% of people are hungry yet 33% of food is wasted, that the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago still haven't been found, or something else you feel strongly about. I decided to simply go silent for every child that doesn't have their voice listened to (this is Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights Of The Child).

Today I learnt a lot about the importance of my voice. This quote from Malala really sums it all up: "WE REALISE THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR VOICES ONLY WHEN WE ARE SILENCED." That really rang true for me today in both a literal and metaphorical way. I spent the day having to communicate via whiteboard or hand gestures during my lessons at school. Once communicating became so much harder and time consuming, I felt as if I had to make every word count.

I didn't quite realise how much I talk in everyday life, and after a few hours of not talking I started to feel slightly distant from my peers. It's almost like you are invisible, people know you don't have a voice so they don't talk to you. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for someone like me who is often in the middle of everything happening, but it gave a unique metaphorical insight into what it's like to be voiceless.

This whole experience has made me really think about how privileged I am to of been born into a part of the world where I am allowed to have thoughts and opinions, where I am allowed to have creative outlets like this blog. I spent a lot of my silent time thinking about how I can use the fact that I do have a voice within society to be able to help those who don't. It reminded me why I started this blog and why it's so important for our generation to speak out. We are not a dumb, selfie stick carrying, don't care what's going on in the world bunch of idiots. We are the internet generation, but we are a generation of change. We must harness the power of social media, blogging and youtube to make our voice count.

I hope this has inspired some of you to take action on an issue you are really passionate about. I give you the challenge to tweet me @sarahzsay and tell me what issue you want to campaign on, COMMIT TO CHANGE!

Love you all and speak to you soon,
Sarah xx


International Women's Day 2015!

Hiya everyone!
Yesterday we celebrated one of the best days of the year - INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY! The last year has been great for the development of women's rights, and has been the first year where I've actively been campaigning for gender equality. It's been this year that I've begun to see how much inequality there is in the world, so I wanted to write about what gender equality means to me. 

Originally I wasn't going to blog about international women's day, but yesterday afternoon I watched the HeForShe conversation with Emma Watson (which was totally brilliant btw) and thought, you know what, gender equality is an issue that I'm really passionate about, and one that our generation needs to be engaging with, so it deservs to be featured on here. IWD is an amazing opportunity to celebrate our hard work and commitiment, but it's also a time for us to raise awareness, and to realise that there is so much more that needs to be done in our fight for equality.

As a young teenage girl, and one that hopes for an influential career, stories like those of Malala - who was shot for standing up for every girls right to an education - make me shocked and angry at society. The fact that over 3/4 of our MPs are men continues to horrify me. It worries me that our generation in slipping into the state of mind that just because women have the vote, the fight for gender equality is over. It's the everyday things, the 'you ------ like a girl', the lack of strong women in media, the prejudice we still have that women and girls cannot lead. And the global things too. The things happening on the other side of the world, the girls subject to FGM, the girls not in school, the girls that don't have a voice. That's what we are facing in the 21st century.

And that's why I still need feminism. 

I bet you irked a bit then. Because even in the 21st century, the word feminism still holds so many negative connotations. By definition the word feminism means political, social and economic equality for all, yet we still continue accociate it with hate, hate of men. That itself should prove answer enough to the question 'why do we still need feminism?'. 

But it's not just a women's fight, it's everyone's fight. For me, feminism today isn't just about equality for women, but for equality for men, children, the LBGT community and everyone else. This year I encourage all young people reading this, whatever your gender, to raise their voice in the fight for equality. If you don't know where to start, I would highly suggest watching Emma Watsons heforshe video on her Facebook, it was honestly so powerful! You don't need to turn into a huge campaigner, it can be the tiniest everyday things you do that can change someone's perspective, for life.

We are the future world leaders,  but we don't have to wait until we are adults to make a difference. By educating ourselves, and engaging in global issues now, our chances of creating an equal world are 10x higher. One quote from Emma that really sticks out for me, and one that I feel is so fitting right now is this: "If not me, who? If not now, when?". No one is going to change the world for you, this life wasn't given to you just so you could sit back and let everyone else do the work. If there is an issue that you're passionate about, it doesn't have to be gender equality, it can be anything that will positively impact our world, please don't wait to act! Act now, start small, and great things can happen. 

Sarah xx

The Most Inspiring Day Of My Life?! WeDay 2015

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with WeDay, Free The Children or Me To We. These are my own experiences and opinions are all my own. I am not being paid to talk about any of the products mentioned. 

Hi guys! On Thursday I was lucky enough to travel all the way to Wembley Arena with my school to attend very special event: WeDay. WeDay happens once every year, and is a huge celebration of young people using their voices to change the world. You can't buy a ticket there, you have to earn it through completing one local and one global action to better the planet. I earnt my ticket by writing to the government through a group at my school called OI (stands for overcoming injustice!) about various global issues and through donating to my local food bank. 

Free The Children, the charity behind WeDay, was founded by Craig Keilburger when he was just 12 years old! Craig was just like any other boy, but one day he saw a story in the newspaper about a child slave who was tragically killed for speaking out against the exploitation. The story angered him so much that he tore out the article and took it into school with him, that day he would stand up in front of his class and ask for their help to end child labour: and so Free The Children was born. That day, with the help of his classmates, he would embark a journey that would light the spark in a generation of young people to stand up for what they believe in. 

I can't even begin to explain what it feels like to be sat in a huge arena with 12,500 young people who are all just as passionate about social change as you are. You can feel the desire for difference in the air; the sound of people chatting over the booming music as you step into the arena is overwhelming. Although this was my second time going to WeDay, I'd forgotten just how unique the atmosphere was. It's honestly one of the best feelings in the world! 

         

It would take me a whole day to talk about every person we saw speak, and I highly doubt you want to sit through all that, so I'm just going to say a little the very best parts of the day: commence the whistle stop tour of WeDayUK 2015! 

This time 'round WeDay was split into four 'lessons', meaning that for a day Wembley Arena literally became THE COOLEST classroom on the planet! Lesson 1 was all about economic empowerment, with our first teacher of the day, Becca Dudley, walking onto the stage to tell us how for a family in a third world country something as simple as a goat could be the difference between poverty and financial security. It works like this: 1 goat makes milk, which can be sold for other goats, you then have a heard. You can then sell some of the heard to buy chickens, now you have milk and eggs to be sold meaning that you have a source of income which inturn allows you to send your children to school (which I'll talk a bit more about in just a sec). 

Lesson two was probably the most inspiring for me, it was all about Technological Empowerment. This section really spoke to me as I am a firm believer that technology is what allows young people to create such a huge difference. It also links in with my campaigns on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and of course this blog! Our teacher was the incredible Spencer West, who lost both his legs as a child. However he hasn't let that stand in his way and has climbed Mt Kilamanjaro on his hands, something that most people wouldn't even dream of doing! He spoke about the huge power 'the internet generation' have, and that we must be using our social media platforms to help change the world. In fact, if you're reading this I want you to post one fact about an issue you're interested in on your social media. You don't know who might see it and get inspire to make a difference! 

Next up - Social Empowerment! Our third teacher of the day Bluey Robinson told us about how he managed to overcome being bullied when he was a teenager. As some of you might know my manifesto for youth parliament was to reduce instances of bullying, so this was really powerful for me. Teenagers today have so much pressure put on them by the media and from their peers that it's really important we learn to support eachother instead of tearing eachother down. Happy and confident young people now means better world leaders in the future!

Last lesson of the day was Education Empowerment. This was led by the man himself, the absolutely incredible Craig Kielburger! I have to say he is one of the best public speakers I've ever seen and it was such a highlight to see him speak live! His story is incredible, he was younger that I am now when he first travelled to Asia to witness the horrors of child labour. One of the core fundamentals of the free the children initiative is education, once children can access a high quality education they stand a much much better chance of breaking free from poverty. 

Craig also taught us this: GIFT+ISSUE=CHANGE. What does that mean? It means that whatever your talent is, combined with a cause you are passionate about, is what has the power to create change. For me that really sums up the message of the entire day: WeDay is young people using their talents to create change! 

But that wasn't all! Throughout the lessons we heard empowering speeches from the likes of Kweku Mandela, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Google Science Fair winners, The Buried Life guys and Martin Sheen! WeDay is a celebration and in that spirit there were also performances from incredible artists like Years & Years, Bars and Melody, Conor Maynard, Mr Probz and my personal favourite Shawn Mendes (IKR). He got the entire arena singing his song 'Never Be Alone' and I would be lying if I said I wasn't fangirling a bit (okay a lot) at that point! It was such a beautiful moment! 

But in reality WeDay isn't about going to this concert, getting inspired to make a difference but then losing interest after a few weeks. It's about all of us uniting as a community of dedicated and passionate young people to be the change, for good. It's not inspiration that creates change, it's action. If you are a young person who is interested in making some positive difference to the world, then I encourage you to download the WeDay app, We365. Every day there are new challenges and it's the perfect place to connect with other passionate young people from all across the globe! If you decide to download the app you can find me on there at Sarah Trott!

       

Sorry this post is getting so long, I promise I have just a couple more things to talk about regarding what happens now I've been to WeDay! First off I would just like to talk about my beautiful WeDay Rafiki Friend Chain that I bought on the day. Each Rafiki (the Swahili word for friend) is handmade by a woman in Kenya, the beading provides them with a sustainable source of income and allows them to send their children to school. Each Rafiki stands for a different cause (e.g. income, education, empowerment), my Rafiki gives a week of clean safe drinking water to a child in India. There is a code on the back of each Rafiki that allows you to track your impact and see exactly who your Rafiki is helping! How cool is that? 

                               

Finally (last thing I promise:)!!!!!!!) is the volunteer trip opportunities that are offered through the WeDay initiative. They allow young people to travel to destinations like India, Kenya, Rural China and Ghana to work with a community and build a school. It has always been a dream of mine to travel abroad and see what life is like in a third world country. Much like Craig Kielburger at the age of 12, I feel as if experiencing a completely foreign country and being immersed in the culture, whilst being able to make a real difference to a community would help me to become a much better world changer. I don't know if this year'll be my year to go, but I'm applying for several scholarships, so fingers crossed! 

I want to say a huge thank you to the teachers at my school who drove us all the way up to London, we wouldn't of been able to go without you! It has been a life changing experience and one I will treasure for the rest of my life! However it's not really over, WeDay launches a year of action for change for every young person, including me and YOU! I really encourage you to download the We365 app and to check out the metowe website if you are passionate about changing the world as they have some fantastic resources! Remember that GIFT+ISSUE=CHANGE and have a lovely day! 

Sarah xx


"Be ambitious, go after the goals that scare you." ~The Buried Life

"We are actually all a community, and when we put our solutions together we can really help the world." ~Sophie Healy Throw, Google Science Fair Winner

"My fondest wish for each and every one of you is that you'll find something in your life worth fighting for." ~Martin Sheen

Overcoming Challenges

Hi guys!
As some of you might be aware, recently I've stood for election into the UK Youth Parliament, an organisation that allows its 600 elected members (all 11-18 year olds) to use their voice and passion to create positive social change. If you are elected as an MYP (Member Youth Parliament) you get to campaign on the top five issues that get picked every year in a houses of commons debate, as well as your own personal manifesto. You can find out more about their work on their website: http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk

The reason I want to talk about this now is because we had the results evening for my area (Dorset) last Thursday. I wasn't elected, and although I am gutted (I've wanted to be an MYP for over two years) the four MYPs that were elected are so so deserving and will do an incredible job! For those of you in Dorset your new MYPs are Lucy Armstrong and Jack Dunne. Their deputies are Crystal Lily Mills and Grace Van Zyl. 

But I want to take this chance to talk about challenges. I am still so pleased at how far I managed to get in the election process, I was against young people four or five years older than me who come from schools with over 1000 students voting for them. My middle school with only 300 pupils eligible to vote seems tiny in comparison. And yet I still managed to receive 3681 votes! The turnout was 17,500 and there were eight candidates. 

During the last few months I've met some incredibly dedicated young people and made some amazing new friends. Every person I talked to about my campaign was so supportive and it's a real testament to the fact that young people do care about changing the world for the better. It was a fantastic experience to be involved in such a large election, and it's given me the opportunity to develop so many skills like public speaking, debating and using social media to campaign. I've also become a member DYCE  (Dorset Youth Council Enables) through standing for election and I am already involved in several projects that I'll be talking about in my upcoming posts! 

On the topic of projects and campaigns, all hope is not lost for my manifesto, which is to campaign to reduce instances of bullying by creating a county wide anti bullying policy. On Thursday evening I met the Children's Services Director for Dorset County Council who is interested in working with me and the rest of DYCE to help roll out my campaign anyway! There is also an idea that this blog will start to become a sort of hub for all the work DYCE is doing. Expect some guest posts from my fellow DYCE members in the next few months! 

So despite not being elected, it's looking like I'm going to be in for a pretty busy year anyways! But on a side note, I don't want anyone thinking that I've given up on becoming a Member of Youth Parliament! As I said before I've wanted it for over two years, ever since I found out about the organisation. You just watch out for me next year; I will be standing again with twice as much determination!;) 

The moral of this post is to not give up on your dreams. Whatever you're trying to achieve, keep going! You will certainly have set backs along the way, but if you want something bad enough you'll find a way to make it happen. Stay strong, keep positive! 

EDIT: I received the nicest letter from my grandparents this morning telling me to not give up on my dream of becoming Member of Youth Parliament. They managed to sum up everything I've been thinking far better than me, and I just want to share this quote from the letter: "Coping with knocks along the way is hard, and it happens to all of us, but these can be very positive experiences and give us the resolve, strength and determination to reach our goals." That is so true, and I think we can all learn from our setbacks and use them to make us stronger individuals in the long run. I hope everyone is having a fantastic day and remember to follow me on social media to find out more about everything I'm doing! 

Instagram: @sarahzsay
Twitter: @sarahsmiles789

P.S. I've got a super busy week coming up so it'll be blog post heavy, I won't say too much yet but some it is really exciting, and I mean REALLY exciting!:)


Our Voices Matter: Youth Voice SW Convention 19/02/15

Hiya everyone!
Today I was delighted to attend my second Youth Voice South West Convention in Taunton. They happen every 6 weeks or so, and it's a great chance for passionate 11-18 year olds to come together to discuss campaigns, get updates on the work other people are doing and chat with friends from other parts of the South West. Young people from all different roles were there: we had D/MYPs, Young Inspectors and even some Young Mayors (links to the websites of those groups will be at the bottom of the page for anyone interested!).

The morning half of the agenda was kindly led by Natacha Tagholm from First Buses, who came to collect young peoples views on the bus services currently operating in the South West. We found that young people living in rural areas and those living in city environments are facing quite different problems. Rural teens are more concerned about the price of fares, buses not being on time, and lack of frequent buses altogether; Whereas teens living in more urban areas are worried about CO2 emissions and traffic jams.

                                     
 
However one issue that we are all really keen to address is the relationship between young people and bus drivers. One DMYP had already run a workshop in her local area where bus drivers and young people had to swap places for the day, e.g. a young person would be 'driving' and selling 'tickets' and the bus drivers would be the passengers. The feedback from this day was really interesting - we learnt that both parties are quick to make stereotypical judgments without getting to know individuals. Bus drivers described young people as loud, rude, disrespectful,  unorganised and rowdy, and young people were quick to assume that all bus drivers are grumpy, old fashioned, patronising, ignorant and unhelpful. We are all keen to make changes to our public transport a priority campaign and I am already working with some other people from my local youth council to create an educational pack aimed at year 7 pupils who will be using the bus for the first time (but more on that another day!).

I could probably talk all day about the need for better public transport services, especially in rural areas, but I'm going to leave it there because this is already getting super duper long and I haven't even talked about the afternoon agenda yet! After some lunch (including the famous youth parliament brownies which are just about THE BEST THING EVER) we welcomed some guests from various different organisations to discuss the living wage and work experience opportunities. 

We did carousel style disscussions with small groups of us talking to each guest for around 10 minutes before moving on. We debated on: The different plans the Tories vs Labour have for combatting youth unemployment, In-school careers advice, Should work experience be compulsory for all schools and young people's thoughts on the living wage. Many interesting, and in some cases controversial, points were raised and it's fair to say that some groups gave the guests quite a grilling (not in a bad way I promise!)! 

It was a really great day and living proof that young people do care about politics, and we want to have our voices heard! On that note, a quick reminder for anyone who'll be 18+ by the General Election in May, MAKE SURE YOU GET REGISTERED TO VOTE! It's quicker and easier than you probably think and allows you to have your say on how the country should be run. There's a great website http://www.leagueofyoungvoters.co.uk that's specifically for young voters and remember to tell your friends to get registered too. Even posting a link on your social media to the aforementioned website could be the difference between someone voting and not voting! Sassy links are below and have an amazing day! :)


       











Hello World :)

Hello!
Welcome to my blog everyone! To be completely and utterly honest with you all, I have no idea if I'm ever going to make anything of this blog, but I've had a lot of thoughts going round in my head recently and this might just turn out to be the perfect way to vent them all to the world. Besides, I have lots of ideas for posts and I really do enjoy writing. 

As for what content you can expect to find on here, it will probably just be whatever comes into my mind. But just so you know what your getting yourself into, some background information on me is probably in order.

My name is Sarah (you probably got that from the blog name anyway) and I am 13 years old. Some of my more 'normal' interests would include things like reading, writing, drawing, cooking and running. However, one thing that I have become extremely passionate about over the last 2-3 years is the voices of young people. And by that I mean the right every under 18 year old has under Article 12 of the Untited Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child to have their opinions heard by adult decision makers. I don't really remember how I first found out about the issues that face the worlds children and young people, both in first world countries and developing countries, but what I do know is that it sparked something within me to start speaking out against things that I think are wrong. I am a part of several groups that help young people to get they're voices listened to, but that's another story for another day.

If anything was to become of this blog, I would want it to become place that teenagers and young people could come to when they needed advice or somewhere to talk about issues that are important to them. 

These posts will probably range from fairly light hearted topics to more serious problems, but I promise you that I'll always be writing from the heart. On a side note, if you don't like something I have to say, please could you either exit the page or leave me a polite comment stating what it is you have a problem with. I never mean to cause anyone offence. 

Thank you if you managed to read all the way to here without getting too bored! 

Sarah