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Although I’m young, I’ve learned a lot in life. There are some key lessons I would share with other young people.

The first and most important is that no matter how young you are, you can change the world. Some of history’s greatest accomplishments were achieved by young people. And especially in the early 21st century, when youth enjoy a level of rights and freedoms that were unheard of just a few decades ago, they are evermore empowered to make change. Never let anyone tell you that being young is a barrier.

Second, I would tell youth that when it comes to setting goals, the sky should be the limit. Do you know that famous saying, “Get Real”? Well, do yourself a favour in life: don’t!

Because once you “get real,” you are limiting yourself and your ability to reach your personal, spiritual, academic, health, financial and social goals. Why cut yourself short? Reach as high as you can. You may not even get all the way there, but you’ll still be farther along that you were previously.

Third, I would remind kids that no matter what you do in life, do something that you love. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, than you’re obviously not going to do it to the best of your ability. The things in life I do well are those which I also love to do.

That’s the great thing about making the world a better place: it can take so many different forms. If fundraising isn’t your cup of tea, that what about writing and blogging, or public speaking, or holding public meetings, or lobbying elected officials, or organizing events? There are literally hundreds of things you can do to make change. The goal is to find those things you really enjoy doing.

Fourth, learn from role models. There are a number of people I look up to and try to emulate in life. Mahatma Gandhi is a huge inspiration for me because of the values he stood for: peace, justice and unity. If we want a better world, than we have to be better people and rise above ourselves, work with others, challenge outdated systems and ways of doing things, and speak out to have our voices heard. The independence movement in India threw off the shackles of the greatest empire the world had ever known – and they did it peacefully without firing a single gun shot.

Finally, I would remind young people of the joy of giving. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” And that is what making a better world is all about.

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Twelve year old Bilaal Rajan is a published author, motivational speaker, tireless fundraiser, and a UNICEF children’s ambassador. In 2004, he founded the Hands for Help Organization ( to heighten awareness of youth issues and raise millions of dollars to help kids in need all over the world.

“My main goal is to have one million young people get involved in their communities over the next three years,” says Bilaal, whose accomplishments and concepts gradually became the content of his newly-published book, Making Change: Tips from an Underage Overachiever (, Orca Book Publishers 2008).
When Bilaal was only four years old, he sold Clementine oranges door-to-door to raise funds for the victims of the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, India. It was a small start, but later he sold handmade acrylic plates to raise $1,200 for HIV/AIDS orphans, helped build a school in Tanzania for HIV/AIDS orphans, sold cookie boxes to raise over $50,000 for the affected people and children of Hurricane-devastated Haiti, raised $13,000 for the victims of the Tsunami in South-East Asia, as well as more than $50,000 for the World Partnership Walk.

In 2004, Bilaal issued a UNICEF Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge (, raising $50,000. As a result, in January 2005, the Toronto District School Board presented him and the President and CEO of UNICEF Canada with a cheque for $1.3 million. The Government of Canada then matched this, making the final donation nearly $4 million.

To date, Bilaal has raised nearly $5 million for various causes.

Bilaal’s efforts have also brought him awards, including the 2008 “Top 20 Under 20 Recipient” Award for outstanding efforts in philanthropy, TVOntario’s “Agent of Change” recognition, and the Junior Citizen of the Year Award, among others.

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