Amelia: “The Change Won’t Happen On Its Own”

Amelia Bowen_GR

            Amelia’s screening of Girl Rising

It’s hard to imagine places in the world where girls are second-class citizens, where they are refused an education and treated poorly by their families. In the United States and other developed countries, quality education is available for free to children everywhere, regardless of their class. To most Americans, learning is not a privilege, it is a right – for us, education will be available to everyone who seeks it. This is why Girl Rising is so important. The documentary, Girl Rising, highlights the stories of nine girls who overcame the obstacles set before them at birth and reveals the rampant gender discrimination that plagues many developing countries. Some girls can’t afford an education, and therefore must work instead; others are abused, kept in unpaid servitude, and unable to achieve a fraction of their fullest potential. The girls who bravely tell their stories in this documentary represent the millions who face the same discrimination simply because they are girls. Girl Rising gives the muted and suppressed a voice through which they can call for the much needed change that is on the brink of starting a revolution.

For my senior project, I decided to host a public screening of Girl Rising, along with help from Plan International USA. The first step to inciting change is to raise awareness of the issue and I felt as though Girl Rising, with its powerful message, was the most effective way I could motivate the members of my community to take action. Though the screening was a fundraiser, I feel as though my greatest accomplishment in this endeavor was inspiring my viewers. It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of the problem we face when we accept the responsibility of bettering the lives of millions of girls, but Girl Rising’s tone is one of hope, not despair. In discussion with the audience before the film, Anne Devine, a representative from Plan International, talked about the importance of investing in girls and explained how Plan International plays a role in making that change. Film is powerful, and with stories like those in Girl Rising, it becomes incredibly moving and motivating. The audience could feel the power these girls exude, and I am sure that many left with a new found perspective on the importance of education for girls.


Our event raised $250 and I decided to donate the proceeds to Plan International’s Gifts of Hope. The Gift of Hope I chose helps to protect 5 girls by paying for their tuition and keeping them safe from traffickers. It was important to me to know that the money I raised would protect girls in developing countries because the movement to make education universal must begin by first ensuring their safety and basic rights. Despite their power, the girls who inspire their peers also need support from motivated people around the world. Like every movement that makes a sustainable difference, it can’t be done alone. I encourage everyone who wants to learn more about the realities girls around the world face, to watch, share, and discuss Girl Rising – the change won’t happen on its own.

Sarah’s Give Differently Fundraiser: Yoga for YUGA


My name is Sarah and I run the Youth United Global Action (YUGA) chapter at Blake Middle School in Massachusetts. My guidance counselor and I started Blake’s first YUGA club in the fall of 2014. At first, I was very nervous about starting a club, but after a few meetings, I developed a small, yet efficient, group of passionate students. In the fall, we organized a number of successful events and activities to recognize Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl campaign. However, our chapter seemed to hit a road block when we were brainstorming fundraising events for Plan’s holiday campaign, Give Differently.

The original idea for “Yoga with YUGA” came from our enthusiastic YUGA members! Two of our eighth grade members approached me with the idea of Yoga with YUGA after recognizing that their classmates kept confusing “YUGA” with “yoga”. We presented the idea of hosting a yoga class to the rest of our club and everyone thought it would be creative way to appeal to our classmates and a funny marketing scheme! We quickly began planning and decided the event would be on a Wednesday (the day when we held our YUGA meetings) and that one of my friends would lead the yoga class. My friend was a yoga teacher in training and had been really excited about the idea of YUGA, so this was a great way to get her involved!

Now that we had our yoga instructor, our next task was finding a place to have the class. Considering our club ran through the school, we thought it would be best to hold the class in the yoga room behind our gym. First, I spoke to my principle to get permission to use the yoga room and then we found an adult supervisor, a teacher in the school who ran a yoga club a few years back! We promoted our event by making daily announcements and encouraging our members to spread the word. Finally, after confirming the details with our adviser, yoga supervisor, and the yoga instructor, we made an official list of the students that signed up (10-12) and gave them all permission slips.

Then the big day came! I estimated that we would receive around $50 in donations, but we actually raised over $80! Not only that, but the yoga class was phenomenal and we had a great turnout! Everyone wanted to have another class! While our Give Differently fundraisers and events are ending, we are excited that our YUGA club found a healthy, relaxing and successful way to raise money and have fun. We can’t wait to pick which Gift of Hope our donations will go to!


NEW: The YUGA Support Committee

The Youth and Economic Empowerment Team at Plan International USA  would like to introduce the Youth United for Global Action Network to a new initiative: The YUGA Support Committee! In an attempt to better support and connect our YUGA network, we have informally identified youth that will serve as “mentors” to new and existing YUGA Chapters. Currently, the YUGA Support Committee consists of Plan International USA Youth Advisory Board members and current YUGA members that have volunteered to share their experiences with and knowledge of YUGA and Plan International’s advocacy campaigns, international development issues, and youth empowerment initiatives.

The YUGA Support Committee are fellow youth that you can contact if you need any support with your YUGA Chapter! In addition to Plan staff, we hope you will use the mentors as a resource when you are starting your new YUGA chapter, need more ideas for your current chapter, or need assistance organizing your next event! In addition to supporting YUGA chapters, the Support Committee will also be creating toolkits and complimentary webinars (outside of Because I Am A Girl, Give Differently, and Walk4Wells), so that chapters have ample engagement activities and resources throughout the entire year. Ultimately, we hope that the additional support from like-minded youth will create a more energized and connected YUGA Network.

To contact the members of the YUGA Support Committee please email and we will forward you to any or all of the mentors!

Meet the YUGA Support Committee!


I first started working with Plan as a volunteer with Amigos de las Americas, a partner organization of Plan’s, in Cajamarca, Peru in the summer of 2013. I’ve always admired the values that Plan promotes and protects when advocating for and empowering youth through many innovative mediums. The voices of youth around the world are bursting with innovation, passion, and leadership, and I am proud to be part of a family that makes those voices heard!



I have been involved with Plan for 10 years now. I helped found YUGA in 2004 after a Plan-sponsored conference with youth from around the world. Since then, I have helped plan YUGA’s Leadership Summit, which provides a place for youth to discuss global issues as well as work on their public speaking and leadership skills. I became involved with the YAB about two years ago. I find youth empowerment and youth involvement to be a major player in any global issue, as all global issues influence youth.


my faceBrenna

I first got involved with Plan two years ago through the YUGA Leadership Summit. I was so empowered by the Summit that I started a YUGA club at my school and became a member of the YUGA Steering Committee (which has now joined with the YAB). I love being a part of Plan because of the inspiring, hilarious, and deeply passionate people I’ve met by working with them. Plan has helped me see that the world is an amazingly vibrant place, and that there are so many benefits when we embrace it.



I first got involved with Plan when I was nine years old, when I joined YUGA. Since then, I have been involved with YUGA in my school and community. I am excited to be a part of the YAB as it gives me a chance to voice my opinion about various global issues while also getting to know youth that share similar passions as I do.




Nadyah Hilmi pictureNadyah

I have been involved with Plan for 5 years now. I first got involved with YUGA at the Leadership Summit and have been an active member ever since. I also represented Plan at RTI International’s ‘Ideathon’ Conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. I am motivated and inspired by all the work that YUGA members do and believe youth empowerment and activism is crucial to solving many current global issues. I hope that together we can develop and expand the YUGA network to reach more communities and inspire more youth leaders.