RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we catch up with award-winning child activist Yewande Austin. She believes in order to achieve a brighter future, you must start with investing in kids today.
“I believe every child was born to be a leader, but depending on the environment in which they grow up, some just don’t recognize their leadership skills,” Austin said.
That’s why she travels around the world using her organization to promote change and teaching youth how to think more creatively about solving real world social issues.
“The Change Rocks Foundation is a humanitarian organization that I created to teach vulnerable populations around the world how to think creatively about how we change social and economic issues that promote poverty and oppression,” Austin said.
Her passion was fueled at a young age, by the stories she read about great pioneers like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas.
“I had some early examples in my life that proved to me that you didn’t have to be defined by your circumstances but it sure was helpful for someone to teach you how to break the cycle,” said Austin.
Before the idea to help others was developed, her first love was music. Austin is a former world-renowned musician who now uses her music to fight injustice.
“I use music for a core tool to teach leadership lessons, conflict resolution and simple lessons like math and reading to children who’ve never had access to formal education,” Austin said. “I’m not afraid to go into dark spaces and solve problems that most of the world would rather ignore."
While change isn’t always easy, Austin understands you have to go through hard times before you find the find answer.
The Change Rocks Foundation has trained over 250,000 vulnerable young people.
“I feel a deep responsibility to go into communities and remind children that their lives are not in vain but also teach them the tools that they need to write the best chapters of their lives,” Austin said.
Austin says she’s prepared for the battle because her love for helping children comes from her own story.
“I am the embodiment of the child that had a dream and it’s now my honor to fuel the dreams of children around the world because they are truly the ones that are going to change our future,” Austin said.