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Ido Kedar headshotIdo K., 17, California

For seven years of his life, Ido felt like he was a prisoner in his own body. As someone with severe autism, Ido couldn’t speak due to a disconnect between his mind and his motor abilities. It wasn’t until he was able to communicate by typing that he could prove that he had always understood what was going on around him. He found himself frustrated at the experts who were promoting theories he knew to be incorrect, and he decided he needed to raise awareness about autism and advocate for his peers that were still trapped with no way to communicate. Ido speaks about autism candidly on his blog, in his book, “Ido in Autismland: Climbing Out of Autism's Silent Prison,” and in-person at conferences and universities. He hopes that his efforts will educate those who don’t understand what autism really is, and also give hope to those who are still suffering in silence. Ido says, “Each parent who changes, each teacher who teaches differently, and each free person with autism joins my mission.” He plans on finishing high school and going on to college, so that he can be as well-equipped as possible to continue his public education efforts.

Each parent who changes, each teacher who teaches differently, and each free person with autism joins my mission.

 

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2015 peace first prize winners

Brennan

brennan projectBrennan Lewis, 18, Apex, NC

Growing up a member of the LGBTQ community in North Carolina, Brennan saw firsthand the difficulties and feelings of isolation that LGBTQ youth can endure in a heteronormative environment. And while Brennan was very fortunate to have a loving support system in their family and friends, they saw others who weren’t as lucky. So with a strong sense of compassion, Brennan and a friend took action and courageously created QueerNC.

Grace

grace projectGrace Callwood, 10, Abingdon, MD

Grace is a cancer survivor who learned, through giving away clothing that didn’t fit her post-treatment, that anyone and everyone can help brighten the day of their neighbor. The girls who received Grace’s donation had just moved into a homeless housing complex and were thrilled to be getting new clothes for school. After hearing what a difference her donation made in their day, Grace wanted to help other children who were going through tough times.

Jasmine

jasmine projectJasmine Babers, 19, Rock Island, IL

After watching her best friend and sister endure bullying and witnessing the devastating effects that it can have on them, Jasmine decided it was time someone created an outlet to promote compassion and tolerance among young women.

Xiuhtezcatl

xiuhtezcatl project 2Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 15, Boulder, CO

Growing up, Xiuhtezcatl’s father emphasized his obligation to taking care of the land – a privilege and responsibility that, in a world ravaged by climate change, he does not take lightly. He has been on the front lines of the fight for the environment since he was four, attending and leading rallies and summits, always willing to confront adult leaders for the current climate crisis we see today.

Yasmine

yasminearringtonactionphototwoYasmine Arrington, 22, Washington D.C.

2.7 million young people in the US have an incarcerated parent, and statistics show that they are more likely to drop out of high school and go to jail themselves because of it. Yasmine is one of those 2.7 million; she has experienced firsthand the financial and emotional burdens, and the marginalization that a family goes through as a result. And through building a meaningful relationship with her incarcerated parent, by forgiving him, she was motivated to do something to support her peers and help them find their own peace of mind and end this cycle of incarceration.