Since she was 9 years old, Hannah Alper began identifying her passion for social responsibility. Through her blog Call Me Hannah and social media engagement, she’s been able to connect with kids around the world. We’ve been watching Hannah grow up right in front of our eyes and within a few years, she’s taken to the stage, television and newspapers to motivate and inspire others for the good.
Now, the 14 year old teen is ready to launch her first book, Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change. Best known as a ME to WE motivational speaker and WE ambassador, she’s committed to inspiring us all to make a big change through small, everyday actions. In this book, Hannah profiles various individuals who have inspired her during her lifetime. There are 19 exclusive interviews conducted by Hannah with activists, celebrities and young change-makers including Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) and YouTube sensation, Lilly Singh.
We had a chance to chat with Hannah about her new book and how we can make a change in the world we live in.
You’ve met so many inspiring people already! Who has made a big impact on you and why?
I have had the opportunity to meet so many of my role models who have all created big change. The people that have made the biggest impact on me would without doubt, be the youth I have met. They are the reason that I do what I do, to motivate them and I find that I am constantly inspired by all the impacts they are creating.
You’re also involved in giving back in so many ways, what has been the most memorable experience you’ve had so far?
Going to Kenya with Me to WE was such an eye opening and life changing experience. I have travelled to Kenya three times, and before, I had learned about all the issues I was passionate about and raised money and awareness for them, but seeing the issues and impacts first hand is something unparalleled. Going to schools, hospitals, wells, farms and meeting community members first hand helped me learn about the issue first hand so that it would motivate me even more to be part of the issue.
There are a lot of kids out there who want to help others in the world. What advice do you have for kids?
My biggest advice that I always have for people wanting to make a difference that is highlighted in my book is that little things add up to make a big difference. Every tangible action we take adds up. A lot of people think that it takes the big actions or the revolutionary ideas to change the world, which can become very daunting for many but if lots of us took small actions, we could tackle any issue we want.
Your parents are very supportive. What kind of advice or guidance have they given you?
There’s a lot but a big one would be “stay true to your passions and who you are”. What this means is that when the skeptics try to stop you from doing what you’re doing, remember your why and stay true to that.
Do you support specific causes? If so, how did you decide? There are so many great opportunities out there!
You’re very right. There are so many issues in the world that need to be fixed and I am passionate about so many of them. I really don’t think you can be passionate about too many, in fact, it’s amazing to want to tackle many issues. I’m passionate about the environment, anti-bullying, poverty, homelessness, education, access to clean water, equality, mental health and much more.
You’ve taken to the stage and have done a lot of public speaking on causes and you don’t seem to have any fear of speaking in front of thousands of people. What’s that like?
I believe that everyone has a skill that they can bring to the table, and mine is communication. I feel like speaking in front of people about what you’re passionate about is one of the most gratifying things in the world, while for others, that might not be their thing. On the WE Day tour in 2013, I had the honour of travelling with Martin Luther King III and when I asked him for advice because I was nervous about getting on stage, he said: “Those nerves that you’re feeling is adrenaline. And that adrenaline is excitement. If you’re not nervous, you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing.” I’m still nervous at every single speech but I take those words with me everywhere.
What do you want kids to know?
ANYONE can make a difference. I don’t care how old you are, how much money you have or where you live. You can change the world. There’s a formula that is the base in my book and my journey: Issue + Gift = Change. Find the cause you’re passionate about, then find your gift, the thing you’re good at. Put those two things together and that is how you make a difference.
So many kids are on social media (but we know that you can use it for good and not just for fun) What are your thoughts?
It is an incredible time to be alive because of technology. I know that social media and the internet is the most powerful tool there is. With the click of a button, we can reach our message to people that live in different cities, provinces and countries. It just depends on the kind of message we are going to share. Instead of using social media to tear people down, we really need to use it to build people up. I really believe in social media for social good. Lets use it to build online communities who have the same interests, talking about the issues that make us angry and how we are going to do something about it.
Who would you love to meet that you haven’t already?
Definitely Scooter Braun. He has such incredible and selfless values and beliefs. He is using his platform for good and when he has an opportunity to talk about something he is passionate about, he uses it well. We’re coming for him for the next book!
What do you do for fun?
Well, I just started high school and I absolutely love it. It’s so amazing meeting new people who have the same interests as you, it’s a great experience. I also love hanging out with my friends. But saying that, my activism, my journey is fun. It is the most fun thing I have ever done in my life. I don’t treat it like a job or a chore, because it’s not. If I didn’t like what I was doing and I wasn’t having fun, I would stop. But I don’t think I’m ever going to stop.
Moments: Small Acts, Big Change by Hannah Alper will be available in November, 2017. Currently available for pre-order online through Chapters Indigo and Amazon.ca