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Greta Thunberg, A Difference Maker


On an almost daily basis, we encounter something that we would like to see changed. Some are small things, but others are larger and much more significant. Our typical reaction is to “shake our heads” and move on. However, for things to actually change, for things to actually get better, someone has to get involved, someone has to make a choice, someone has to do something and lead the way to improving the situation or circumstances. Greta’s example reminds us that one person can make a difference…if he/she chooses to do so.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. 

Mahatma Gandhi

We See Things that Need to Be Done, But…


We look around our communities and our country and see things that need to be fixed or “made right” in some way. We see parts of our cities that are in disrepair with no organized effort to improve the conditions. We see homeless people in need of somewhere better to sleep. We see people in need of training programs to help them develop new skills and possibly launch a new career. We see local parks being disrespected and damaged by careless people. And, on and on we go. Most of us could quickly identify a number of problems similar to these that need to be addressed. 

Although we encounter or become aware of needs such as these, we have a tendency to simply talk about them and do very little—most often nothing—to improve a situation in some way. We think: What could I possibly do to even begin to make a difference? If you are a young person, with much of your life left to live, you should give this question some careful thought. If you are older, your life experience would come in very handy if you took on an important project to make things better in some way.

Most certainly, there is a way for you to make a difference and begin to change or fix something in your own special way. This lesson is about a young person who did exactly that.

Greta Did It, You Can Too

while we can make slight changes to our outward appearance,

You are not likely solve a significant problem all by yourself. But you can be the person who “starts the ball rolling” and leads the way for something important to be done. As such, you and I can learn from the example of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. 

When Greta Thunberg was eight years old, she started learning about climate change and environmental issues. She realized that people’s carelessness was causing a lot of harm to our Earth. She wanted things to change, but she didn’t know what to do about it. Instead of just forgetting about it, Greta decided to learn as much about the issues as she could. As she was growing up in Sweden, she watched documentaries, read books, and talked to people who could teach her

more about these environmental concerns. She started by convincing her parents that there were things they could do within their home to make a difference. 

But Thunberg wanted to do more than just make changes in her own home. She needed more people to join her efforts. So, when she was 15-years-old, she got her parents’ permission to skip school one day and hold a rally with her homemade signs that would educate others in her community about things that could be done to protect our world. She held her rally outside of the Swedish parliament. 

“I painted the sign on a piece of wood and, for the flyers, wrote down some facts I thought everyone should know. And then I took my bike to the parliament and just sat there,” she said in a press interview for The Guardian. “The first day, I sat alone from about 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.—the regular school day. And then on the second day, people started joining me. After that, there were people there all the time.” Thunberg vowed to be outside of parliament every Friday until she saw signs of laws changing. She did so without getting behind academically. Now Thunberg regularly holds press conferences, leads educational protests around the world, and has many groups that join her in her work to bring about environmental changes that will make a global difference. 

It Can Start with You


Change almost always begins with one person willing to step up to the challenge. And change can begin in small ways—with something as simple as handmade signs and a spot to sit where people will read them. You can do significant work no matter how young you are, how much money you have, or how much formal education you have completed. Determination and that special feeling you have inside you about something that needs to be done can be the guiding forces to finding a way to make a difference. 


If there’s a change you see that needs to be made at your school, in your workplace, or in your community, don’t wait for 

someone else to take action. That may, in fact, never happen. Instead, be the person who steps up and goes to work to find an answer…to make things better…to bring about a needed change. When you do, others will follow your lead…and real change can happen. 

while we can make slight changes to our outward appearance,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. 
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

Questions/Discussion Points



Do you know someone who has been a leader in bringing about change? 
What do you think inspired them to do so? 


What is one important change needed in your school or your community that would help people? 
What can you do to start working to make this change?


How can you join others who are already working to make improvements in some way? ​

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