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BabatundeBabatunde Salaam, 22, Baltimore, MD

As an African-American male growing up in urban Baltimore, Babatunde was all too familiar with the ongoing hostilities between young people of color and the police. After he was unfairly stopped by a police officer while walking home from an afterschool program, he knew he needed to take a stand against the injustice he was seeing.

Danielle Liebl, 22, St. Joseph, MN

Danielle was born with cerebral palsy and was told by several doctors that she would never succeed in school or live independently. But Danielle refused to live her life limited by the low expectations of experts.

Emily-Anne Rigal, 19, Williamsburg, VA

As a child Emily-Anne was severely bullied by her peers which resulted in her needing to transfer schools. At her new school she found friends who appreciated her for her and she gradually gained self-confidence.

Isabella Griffin, 10, Alamosa, CO

Isabella knows how big of an issue bullying is because she was bullied for the clothes she wore to school. She also  saw other children being bullied just for being different. One particular experience of seeing a classmate with disabilities being bullied spurred Isabella to take a stand.

Jessica Carscadden, 10, San Diego, CA

Adopted from an orphanage in China at five years old, Jessica knew what it felt like to be scared and unsure of herself in unfamiliar surroundings. She also knew that simple comforts, like having a stuffed animal to hold, could go a long way to help other children in frightful situations.

Justin Bachman, 16, Solon, OH

Justin experienced intolerance first-hand when, due to an episode of his Tourette’s syndrome, he was disqualified from a high school track meet. He was stunned and disappointed but instead of walking away dejected he decided to take his experience to make a difference for others.

Mary-Patricia Hector, 15, Lithonia, GA

Mary-Patricia noticed a sad trend in her life - that she was attending more funerals than graduations because her peers were senselessly killed by guns. Moved to action, she began researching the root causes of deaths in her community and possible action she could take to create change.

Nicholas Lowinger, 15, Cranston, RI

At the age of 5, Nicholas started visiting homeless shelters with his mom. There he met children who missed school, couldn’t participate in activities and sports, and had low self-esteem— all because they lacked adequate footwear.  He learned that very often children in shelters received previously worn shoes that didn’t fit well because they were molded to someone else’s feet.

Sarah Cronk, 20, Bettendorf, IA

Sarah’s older brother has a disability, but it wasn’t until high school that she noticed he wasn’t included in school activities and sports. One day, a popular athlete invited her brother to sit with him at lunch—this seemingly small action changed both Sarah’s and her brother’s high school experiences.

Wei Chen, 22, Philadelphia, PA

At 15, Wei moved from China to Philadelphia where he and other Asian students in his South Philadelphia high school encountered hostility, harassment, and physical abuse simply because of their ethnicity. Wei could easily have become just another victim, but instead he took the time to consider why he and other students were being harassed.

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.

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