The Validation Project

Students spread rumors that Val did not have the physical ability to speak because she was so shy in her freshman year of school. They put notes in her locker telling her to commit suicide. One day, Val saw another student getting victimized. She went up to him and said, "You matter." He told her that he was planning to kill himself, but her words showed him there was hope. This gave Val an idea. She ran home and started a website called The Validation Project. It is now a global organization that takes the struggles and skills of youth and turns them into entrepreneurial solutions for social justice issues. Teens are first partnered with a mentor and then they apply their skills in a service activity. Lastly, the teens take what they learned and work with The Validation Project to design a global campaign that can activate other youth to take action, whether it's Akwimwe in Uganda who started an HIV clinic or Valeria in Peru who led a global campaign about feminism.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

The objective of The Validation Project (TVP) is to provide a positive outlet for youth to transform the things they struggle with most into solutions for global issues. The teenage years are the years when we are the most creative, yet the majority of the teenage generation never acts on an idea. The youth of the world could easily turn to violence and hatred towards one another. TVP works to unite teenagers across the world to take a stand and work together to solve the most prominent issues. As youth activist Val has said, "Everyone tells us to wait until we're older to make a difference. TVP does the opposite. We're proving that my generation, when given the right resources and support, can truly change the world.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

Objectives are achieved by forming partnerships and creating a cohesive strategy. TVP has a large pool of 3000 mentors that work with youth internationally to solve an array of different issues. Val also works very closely with the White House and State Department to connect youth to their government officials, continuing to raise awareness of the issues teenagers face. Val serves as the United States Youth Ambassador to the United Nations with A World At School, working with former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to make sure every child has the right and resources to receive an education and achieve their dream. Also, TVP partners with 970+ schools in 100 countries. These schools teach Val's entrepreneurial curriculum, where youth work together to creatively solve problems in their community and globally. TVP also has an executive board of youth that represent different facets and geographical locations of TVP. They work together to promote campaigns, gain more mentors and youth.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

1. Entrepreneurial curriculum in 970 schools, teaching youth how to work together to apply their skills to solve problems.
2. Working with White House and State Department to partner youth with their government officials.
3. TVP is represented in 105 countries with 6000+ youth working to solve a variety of social justice issues.
4. TVP's work has been shared by the National ABC Meredith Vieira Show, CNN, Crain's New York Business Magazine, Seventeen Magazine, News 12 and Teen Vogue.
5. Val is a recipient of the National Jefferson Award of Peace/Justice, GLSEN Youth of the Year and the International Princess Diana Award from UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Val has shared her story with Julia Roberts, Justin Timberlake and more.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

TVP has raised $50000 USD in goods and services to give to people in need. Its campaigns have donated 24000 toiletries to homeless shelters, provided 500 phones and tablets to families in developing countries, given clothes and books to Syrian refugee children, initiated entrepreneurial curriculum in 970 schools and provided 6000 youth with mentoring and service activities from 105 countries. Val recently traveled across the globe, to Poland, Israel, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Australia. She started new Validation Project chapters, interviewed youth about the issues they faced and used what she learned to work with the UN, White House and State Department to provide youth with resources to speak up about the issues they face. She worked with village chiefs in rural villages to make their communities sustainable. Val also has shared her mission about the power of youth at 100+ schools, the UN, White House, State Dept., Human Rights Campaign and a wide range of universities.

CHALLENGES FACED

1. Lack of funds to promote TVP and initiate campaigns
2. Inadequate means to transfer supplies and donations from TVP to different geographical areas/countries.
3. People's opposition to the leadership of youth, especially with 'controversial' social justice issues such as LGBT, women's rights, racial/religious.

LESSONS LEARNT

1. Youth have the incredible capacity to change the world.
2. People will judge you for standing up when you're young - and that's exactly why you need to do it.
3. When provided with a positive outlet to solve problems creatively, youth will work together to truly make positive change happen.
4. Sometimes, the hardest points in your life are just minutes before the best moments.
5. No one finds their passion when their life is going great. You find your passion when you're surrounded by darkness and you need to turn your light on to solve the issues around you.