Teenagers live extraordinary lives to make a difference

Fifteen-year-old Winter Vinecki has accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime.
WINTER VINECKI: “I recently completed a marathon on all seven continents and became the youngest person in the world to do so. And I really was doing this for my dad.”
Vinecki’s father was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer when she was nine. He died 10 months later.
WINTER VINECKI: “When he was first diagnosed, I immediately knew I had to do something to help him. That’s when I formed Team Winter for prostate cancer research and awareness."
Through Team Winter and social media, Vinecki has raised close to $500,000. She has also taken prostate cancer awareness worldwide from Kenya to Mongolia, through her seven-continent-marathons. And in the U.S, by giving talks like this one..
At the Milken Institute Global Conference, she was one of several teenagers on this panel who are living extraordinary lives.
Another panelist was Jack Andraka . Invented an inexpensive sensor for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers when he was 15.
JACK ANDRAKA: “Without Google, Wikipedia, I would have never been able to learn all this stuff I needed for this project. I mean, I didn’t even know what a pancreas was before developing my test for pancreatic cancer."
He currently is filing patents for his latest inventions: inexpensive water-quality devices that help detect and filter out heavy metals and pesticides.
JACK ANDRAKA: “I hope to see them employed in developing nations such as Bangladesh and parts of China and India, especially as well in parts of Africa where these heavy metal and pesticides and other industrial effluents are a major problem.”
Sixteen-year-old activist, Mary-Pat Hector saw a problem in her own community. She said too many youth die from gun violence.
MARY-PAT HECTOR: “It was seeing my friends hurt; it was seeing it on the television constantly. It kind of made me feel like I had to do something about it.”
She became the national youth director of the National Action Network, one of the largest civil rights organizations in the US. She also started a campaign that educates youth on the issue of gun violence.
MARY-PAT HECTOR: “My 8-year-old brother drives me, you know, I think about how innocent he is. I just want the world to be a better place for him and my children.”
Mary-Pat Hector, Jack Andraka, and Winter Vinecki say a combination of supportive parents, the Internet and social media have helped them succeed; but, what’s most important comes from within.
WINTER VINECKI: “I think the biggest thing for kids and adults is to never let age and gender be a barrier and to not just dream but dream big.”
JACK ANDRAKA: “Never let anyone else tell you no," "Always keep going for your dream, and don’t think if a 15-year-old could do it, just think what you could do.”
They say with that kind of thinking, anything is possible. Elizabeth Leefolt, VOA News, Los Angeles.

Source: VOA


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