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Want to change someones life? It might just change yours too!

We Are Family Foundation's Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leader program is currently accepting applications for its internationally renowned Mentor Program.

Our 30 Global Teen Leaders are paired with 30 incredible Mentors to work together for a year to change the world. What happens at Mentor Day is contagious, what happens in the year ahead is magical.

Three Dot Dash sat down with 2011 super Mentor, Mark Sylvester, about his "eye-opening" Three Dot Dash Mentor experience. Don't miss your chance to be a part of the magic. Mentor application deadline is Sunday, February 26th at midnight. Read about the program and fill out your application HERE.

READ MORE » Mentor Profile :: Mark D Sylvester

   

GTL Adele Taylor Honored with TeenNick HALO Award


Adele accepting HALO grant

Global Teen Leader Adele Taylor was honored with a TeenNick HALO (Helping and Leading Others) Award during a star-studded night at the Hollywood Palladium Stage. This is the first TeenNick HALO Awards ever, and producers Nick Cannon, Lauren Lazin and Alex Coletti were sure to choose truly extraordinary teens who have made a REAL impact.


Adele and Nick Cannon at Award Show

It is no wonder that they have chosen Adele Taylor. At a very young age, Adele understood the importance of reading. In middle school, she was deeply affected by witnessing her peers struggle with elementary-level vocabulary. After learning that one in five adults in the US were illiterate, Adele decided to take action. At the young age of 13, she founded “Adele’s Literacy Library” to encourage people of all ages to improve their literacy and, in turn, change their lives.


Adele Taylor with celeb match Jason Derulo
Adele has spearheaded numerous fundraisers and has, to date, donated thousands of books to schools, daycares, hospitals, and charitable organizations nationwide. She has also encouraged schools in her home-state of New Jersey to participate in a number of reading programs and reaches out to schools across the US through her website, blog-posts, and public service announcements.


Adele with the rest of the TeenNick HALO honorees
Nick Cannon surprised each HALO teen with a grant for their cause alongside a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet their “celebrity-match,” that is, a star that shares a similar philanthropic passion. Adele was paired with multi-talented singer/songwriter, dancer, and actor Jason Derulo who works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Other celebrity matches included the likes of Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Jessica Biel and David Beckham.

So, join Nickelodeon in honoring these exceptional young leaders and their globe-changing ideas! Mark your calendars and tune into Nick at Nite on Sunday, November 6th , at 8 p.m! [ET/PT]

To read about the event and Adele’s work, please check out PR Newswire

To view photos of the event and of Adele accepting her award, please visit Zimbio

Congrats Adele! We are so proud of you and all the GTLs!

   

Jourdan Urbach to perform at WAFF 10 Year Celebration Gala


Jourdan Urbach

Jourdan Urbach was named by Teen People Magazine as one of the “Twenty Teens Who Will Change the World,” and certainly not without reason. The We Are Family Foundation is proud to announce that this 2011 Global Teen Leader will be performing at our upcoming 10 Year Celebration Gala!


Jourdan accepting the World of Children
Nobel Prize for Global Child Advocacy, 2010

Jourdan has received international acclaim for his work as a violinist, recording artist, producer, science researcher and philanthropist. At just the age of seven, Jourdan developed a keen interest in neurology after visiting the pediatric ICU at Beth Israel North Hospital in New York City. He witnessed the isolated and underserved young patients suffering from devastating neurological diseases. It was then that he knew he could use his talent for music to positively change the world.


New children’s hospital beds for the
Ghana/Togo clinic funded by Children
Helping Children/Concerts for a Cure.
Soon afterwards, Jourdan created his first foundation, Children Helping Children/Concerts For a Cure, to raise money for neurological research and innovative in-hospital music therapy & music delivery programs. Concerts for a Cure has provided 1,000 cochlear implants for children who couldn’t hear; created music delivery programs in neonatal and pediatric bone marrow transplant wards; and now funds the largest music therapy program in the US at the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital. Jourdan has performed numerous sold-out concerts at legendary venues like Carnegie Hall & Lincoln Center and has, to date, raised $4.8 million dollars for his cause. While at Yale, he founded the International Coalition for College Philanthropists to encourage non-profit fundraising on college campuses; and was named Goodwill Ambassador & Artist-in-Residence for the UN’s Arts for Peace.


Jourdan performing at Lincoln Center
Jourdan is such an inspiration to the We Are Family Foundation and continues to be awarded for his amazing and impactful work. WAFF is proud to celebrate his achievements and cannot wait for his upcoming performance at the Gala!

To get you excited about his (soon-to-be) awe-inspiring performance, check out some of Jourdan’s glowing reviews:

NY Observer: “every bit the prodigy...brilliant...impossible not to like…”

NY Concert Review: “playing was superlative in every way…impeccable technique…exquisite artistry…Urbach is a violinist that dares to challenge himself and thrives."

To learn more about Jourdan’s work as a musician, scholar, and philanthropist, please visit:



If you are interested in supporting our GTLs and learning more about our Gala, please visit: Help Us Raise 10k By Our 10 Year Gala!

   

Global Teen Leaders Attend One Young World 2011 Summit


Hosanna & Sayid

September, 2011 - Zurich, Switzerland
How many times have you heard that youth is the future? Or, that teenagers absorb information and knowledge like a sponge, and tomorrow they will be experts and professionals who manage the world? Very often by focusing on this notion, we forget that young people are not only the future, but also the NOW, and therefore should have a voice in political, economic and social decision making processes. One Yong World (OYW) hosts an annual summit that provides a platform for young leaders to express their opinions, frustrations, hopes, visions and action plans for a better world, not tomorrow, but NOW.


Sayid, Cindy & Hosanna making a
Three Dot Dash hand signal

This year's summit took place in Zurich, Switzerland hosting 1700 participants from 170 countries. Three We Are Family Foundation's Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leaders (GTLs) participated as delegates at the OYW Summit and represented their countries, projects and most importantly the spirit of Three Dot Dash: Myself, Sayid Abdullaev GTL’08 from Kyrgyzstan, Cindy Garcia GTL’10 from Columbia and Hosanna Kabakoro GTL’11 from Fiji. Hosanna commented, “Our generation owes a tremendous debt to those who paved the way for us. We couldnt do what we do had generations before us not given their all. OYW exemplified this in that we had 'Grandpas', Bob Geldoff & Desmond Tutu as well as over a thousand attendees all working together. THAT IS PROGRESS!”

During the summit we were able to hear and learn from Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the importance of interfaith dialogue, Dr. Muhammad Yunnus on the concept of social business, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway on the topic of global dignity, food revolutionist Jamie Oliver, Wael Ghonim on the power of social media, unreasonable Sir Bob Geldof, and many global CEOs. Participants passed several resolutions to call upon their governments, businesses, agencies to actively participate in the development of the sustainability, social entrepreneurship and youth involvement in the decision making process.


Over 1700 attendees at OYW 2011 Summit
OYW's Summit is a great reminder that in order for us to make a difference in the world, we do not have to be loud, powerful or rich. The only thing we have to be is committed. Commitment turns your world upside down and takes us towards a reality where peace is possible.

   

UN International Year of Youth Celebration hosted by AllyKatzz


August 11th, 2011; New York, NY
UN International Year of Youth Celebration hosted by AllyKatzz

Approximately 400 young girls (ages 11-24) came together to leave their imprint on the future of our world. Hosted by the massively awesome first ever UN Youth Champion, Monique Coleman, with an array of powerhouse speakers including WAFF friend Special Representative to Muslim Communities, SR Farah Pandith (she sprinkled magic behind those doors), Begona Lasagabaster Olazabal, Political Adviser of UN Women, Moira Forbes, President of ForbesWomen, Ann Shoket, Editor-In-Chief Seventeen Magazine among others. Young girls, one after another, each poised, confident and passionate about their work, told their incredible stories and inspired us with their campaigns, and every single person in that rooms jaw dropped to the ground in amazement. And it is was fun. So much fun, to be a part of something that awesome.


Janet Presenting at the UN

Our youth today sometimes get a bad reputation for unproductive behavior. If only the world could have been inside those UN walls those two magical and hope filled days. Our youth are doing more to make this planet a more balanced place to live. This was more than a meeting of the minds at the United Nations. This was action and history in the making.


Jess with the Three Dot Dash
Global Teen Leaders
Our youth have more tools, more resources, more drive, more connectivity, more creativity, than any generation preceding. Our youth have more power than most governments put together. Now more than ever, that little saying "age is nothing but a number", has never held so much truth or clout. Never doubt the capability our youth. If you listen closely to their ideas and give them the support they need to turn passion into action, I promise you, your eyes will sparkle a bit brighter knowing who's hands this world will be left in.



   

The 9th Annual UN Youth Assembly at the United Nations


Iman, Shannon, Adele, Bilaal, Jess and Tanvi
with their UN recognition plaques

August 5th, 2011, New York, NY
The 9th Annual UN Youth Assembly at the United Nations

I had the honor of being invited to attend and participate in two youth conferences held at the United Nations this August. And, I had the honor of being surrounded by the game-changing ideas and insanely productive conversation of teens and young people from around the world. I was like a proud stage mom watching and listening to all of their amazing ideas and conversations. I caught myself at times trying to catch the eyes of other adults in the room to share the, "Hey did you hear that?", head nod, and that "I wish all the adults in the world could be here to experience this force", eye wink.


Jess presenting Three Dot Dash
Over 600 young delegates from all over the world came together to discuss and interact about all things MDGs (Millennium Development Goals), hosted by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation (FAF) and the International Youth Council (two Coalition Partners of We Are Family Foundation's Three Dot Dash program). This year, We Are Family Foundation was invited and honored at the assembly for our achievement in Youth Leadership. I had the honor of speaking to the assembly about the importance of the youth voice and how Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leaders are making significant impact within their communities and tackling the MDGs. Five our of Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leaders were recognized for their contribution to Humanitarian Development: Adele Ann Taylor; 2011 GTL, Bilaal Rajan; 2011 GTL, Tanvi Girotra; 2010 GTL and Shannon McNamara, 2011 GTL. The keynote speech was given by our very own Muhamad Iman Usman; 2011 GTL (see his personal blog and speech here), who was also recognized. I was honored to be on the panel with FAF's own Patrick Sciarratta as well as Ambassador Lorenzo to close the Summit with such a powerful force of young leaders.


Jess and FAF's Pat Sciarratta on UN discussion panel
There is nothing more exhilarating than being in the presence of over 600 people who are driven to make this world a better place. Nothing is more gratifying or electric than to be in the epicenter of the world, the United Nations, with so many motivated and driven individuals from different cultures, religions, colors, backgrounds and life experiences, who not only care about our future, but are doing something contagiously positive for it. It just so happens that they are all under the age of 25!

   

Music is Medicine, Encouraging Celebrities to Donate a Song to a Child in Need


Drew Seeley

In a few months, Music is Medicine will be launching the Donate a Song project! The Donate a Song project invites celebrity musicians to write and record an original song of inspiration for a seriously-ill child. The song will then be sold worldwide to raise awareness and funds for the patient’s cause. The first celebrity to participate in the program will be Drew Seeley – Emmy-nominated songwriter for his work in High School Musical, co-star of Selena Gomez in ABC Family’s Another Cinderella Story, and star of the Hallmark Channel’s Freshman Father. He’s also released two solo albums, starred as Eric in Broadway’s rendition of The Little Mermaid, and toured with the High School Musical cast. And, he’s also 13 year-old Brooke Shockley’s favorite celebrity.


An excited Brooke before Skyping
with Drew Seeley
In late-July, Drew Skyped with Brooke, who suffers from osteosarcoma-bone cancer, at Johns Hopkins’ pediatric oncology unit. In the coming weeks, he will write and record a song of inspiration in her honor, and we hope to release the song in the fall. Still, Brooke’s words ring in my head. “That was the best 9 minutes and 44 seconds of my life,” she told me, as I smiled back at her. I wonder if she knows that she had made that the best day of my life, too. I told her that was just the beginning. “Just wait,” I said, “he didn’t even write your song yet.”

Brooke Skyping with Drew, talking about her life,
his career and her song!

But none of it would be possible without Drew’s generosity and support. “This is a great thing you guys are doing,” Drew said during his Skype session with Brooke. “This whole idea, as soon as I heard about it. It’s awesome.” Music isn’t just a hobby, it has the power to change lives and to better the world. We’re so grateful to Drew for believing in our cause and for donating his time and talents to our program!


Brooke and me after her Skype session with Drew!


Go to musicismed.org for more information about our program, and drewseeley.com to check out the other awesome work Drew’s been up to.



   

Kenya's Vice President Attends Fundraiser for Karura School's New Girls Dormitory


Welcoming the Vice President of Kenya

My name is Diana Onyonyi. I am a teenager from the Republic of Kenya, and proud to be part of an inspiring global family under the We Are Family Foundation.

Every human being deserves to play an integral part in the society. This belief goes hand in hand with the values shared by all Global Teen Leaders. Our brothers and sisters need to be assisted with their basic needs.

Imagine having to shower with freezing cold water every single morning, imagine having to share a congested and unsanitary room, imagine not being able to excel in school simply because of inadequate study space. I am involved in ensuring girls get a good education by raising funds towards building a girls dormitory for the Karura school.


Vice President recognizing my efforts

On the 17th of July 2011, another fundraiser was held. This time around, Vice President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka graced us with his presence. It was clear that it was his pleasure to preside over the exercise. He was glad to see the progress, he stated, "This spirit of care and sacrifice is what as a country we would like to pass down generations."

A few children from the school made presentations. One young girl in particular stood out to me. She said in Swahili, "Kalonzo, wewe ni baba yetu, unaweza kutusaidia." Directly translated, she said, "Kalonzo, you are our father, you can help us". This goes to show how those in disadvantaged positions greatly look up to those who can help them. We can all be someone's "father", if we simply make a conscious decision to help.


Presenting our donations
With everyone's contributions, we raised a total of 8.6 million Kenyan shillings (approximately $95,500 US dollars), 2 million more than previously raised, but 1.4 million short of our goal.

Helping those around you creates a feeling like none other. It's all about taking the first step, and trusting that you have the potential to change the lives of many. As a teenager in our rapidly changing world today, it is evident that at times we tend to leave our disadvantaged brothers and sisters behind.

When challenged with the urge to forget about others, remember the wise words of Hunter Campbell, "We can never get a re-creation of community and heal our society without giving our citizens a sense of belonging.


WAFF Editor's Note: Diana's efforts to build a girls dormitory will serve 500-600 young girls between the ages of 14-19. The building is being completed in phases thus, further fundraising will take place to finish the project.

Help Diana raise the remaining $15,000 (1.4 million Kenyan shillings) to complete Phase 2 of the dormitory building, by CLICKING HERE! We'll keep you updated on Diana's progress!

   

Three Dot Dash Shared Table: A Celebration of our Global Family


Dinner is served at Norwwod Club NYC

We Are Family Foundation hosted its first Three Dot Dash Shared Table event at the Norwood Club in NYC on June 27th. The evening was curated to bring together an intimate group of our Three Dot Dash Coalition Partners, 2011 Mentors and Global Teen Leaders (GTLs) from all three classes to share their experiences as part of the Three Dot Dash Program. The evening amplified everyones efforts and updates, and strengthened our connections and accomplishments we share together as a global family.

Guests included, four (4) GTLs from 2008 (Anum Khan, Janet Tso, Pranav Sawhney, Tara Suri), three (3) GTLs from 2010 (Fahim Farazi, Olayinka Lawal, Tanvi Girota) and three (3) GTLs from 2011 (Bosilika An, Jourdan Urbach, Shannon McNamara) attended along with five (5) Coalition Partners (Global Nomads Group, Summer Search, Allykatzz, Global Kids and International Youth Council) and six (6) 2011 Mentors (Dr. Robert Grant, Ilyasah Shabazz, Jayme Illyem, Kim Brizzolara, Maura Dunbar, Sooze Plunkett-Green).


2011 GTL Shannon and her Mentor Maura Dunbar

We welcomed new Coalition partner, Allykatzz into the family (and heard about their upcoming UN International Year of Youth Culmination Celebration on August 11th). And got an update from Coalition partners The International Youth Council and Friendship Ambassadors Foundation about their annual UN Youth Assembly at the United Nations coming up August 3-5.


International Youth Council's Jamie Ansorge and
2010 GTL Tanvi

Our GTLs have been busy changing the world

  • Nickelodeon is filming 2011 GTL Shannon's trip to Tanzania next year as she works with four schools her organization SHARE supports.
  • 2011 GTL Jourdan's new TV treatment promoting the power of music across cultures is now being pitched to major networks.
  • 2011 GTL Bosilika's most recent successful fundraiser for her organization The Bash for children's hospitals which raised over $150,000.
  • 2008 GTL Anum was awarded the Fulbright scholarship to work on women's issues in Cairo, Egypt (inspired by the work of 2008 GTL Sejal!).
  • We heard about 2008 GTL Janet's upcoming book on China and human trafficking (already banned in China!).

It was an evening to be remembered, and the beginning of many Shared Table events to come.


GTLs reunite. Left to Right: 2010 GTL Olayinka, 2008 GTL Pranav, 2010 GTL Fahim, 2008 GTL Tara, 2008 GTL Janet, 2010 GTL Tanvi

   

Just Peace Summit 2011 Begins!

Our 31 Global Teen Leaders (GTLs) from 15 countries and five continents came together for the first time in person in New York City last night at the 2011 Just Peace Summit Opening Reception. Collectively they traveled thousands of miles - from far away places like Fiji and Bangladesh, South Africa and India - to share their work and their lives with each other for seven days.

There were many highlights of the evening, but the two that stood out were the gathering of past GTLs who worked together just days before to get their fellow GTL, Mahmoud Jabari, released from prison after he was unjustly arrested while covering a demonstration in Hebron as a photo journalist. Their effort was successful and Mahmoud was released, however he was not allowed to travel to the United States to be with us and share his story in person - although we tried! In this day of technological advances, this didn't stop us from having him in the room with us - Skype to the rescue! Mahmoud Skyped in during the reception and had the opportunity to thank his dedicated and loyal GTL family for coming to his rescue. Needless to say the 2011 GTLs were overwhelmed by what they were about to become a part of - a global family who cares deeply about one another.

The second highlight was the introduction of the 2011 GTLs to the world. From raising millions of dollars to fight children's neurological disease, to taking on literacy and environmental issues, the new GTLs shared their accomplishments while the audience was in awe. In fact one or two people were overheard saying something like, "Wow, what was I doing when I was a teenager - nothing like this!"

And, thank you Chef Don Pintabona and his extraordinary culinary team from Valentino's on the Green, for serving up some of the most delicious bites of food for everyone...it was a night to remember all around!

   

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