By Miranda Andersen
Believe – to have faith, confidence or trust. If you have an idea or you want people to make changes where the environment is concerned, you have to believe. You have to believe that you alone can make a difference before you even try to encourage others to make changes. You have to believe in what you’re doing; that the changes you’re trying to make are valuable ones. If you can have that kind of passion not only will YOU make a difference but you’ll help others to make a difference too.
I’ve learned that people often want to help and either they don’t know how to help or they think they can only help if they do something really big and important. They don’t realize that small things add up to big things and everyone has a role to play no matter how small. I know this because it’s the way I started – thinking there wasn’t anyway for me to help, especially because of my age. What I’ve also learned is that adults listen to messages and warnings from kids much better than adults listen to other adults. It seems to have more meaning and more impact when you’re a kid and doors really open for us.
One of my biggest mentors is also one of the biggest volunteers I know. There are so many things that she is involved in and sometimes, she’s the only one trying to make change happen. I’ve seen her around the village where I live, pulling invasive weeds out of ditches at the side of the road and those weeds are endless. It’s backbreaking work and comes with little reward. When I ask her why she does it – she tells me “if not me, then who”. She believes in what she’s doing and the strength of those beliefs are enough to keep her motivated and I know that she inspires others not just by those beliefs but by the actions that result.
I’ve been making movies since I was nine years old. There have been times over the years when friends or family have said “why don’t you make a movie about such and such”. Usually the topic they’ve suggested is a good one but lots of times I say in my head “I couldn’t do a movie about that subject because I don’t believe in it strongly enough to make a film about it”. When it comes to the environment there are lots of great causes to wrap your head around and to put your efforts into. But for me, if I’m going to research it, and work on it and convince others to do the same, I have to completely believe that the subject is worth making a change towards. And for lots of environmental issues the changes you have to make may take place over many years. How can we invest that kind of time unless we really believe in the cause.
Too many times people have great ideas and great intentions but they don’t believe. They don’t believe that they alone can effect changes because they are just one person or the thing they are trying to change is just too big. Imagine if all the amazing environmental activists over the years felt that way – we’d be in even worse trouble environmentally because no one would ever speak up and no one would try to make change. Change is a progression. It starts small and gathers speed and gathers support along the way. You have to believe in yourself and your cause before anyone else will believe in it too. It’s been said that progress is impossible without change and I think that change is not possible without someone who first believes. Every mentor, every hero and every volunteer I’ve admired over the years stand for something they believe in. Everyone should stand for something; what we stand for is up to each one of us.
Miranda Andersen, age 14 of British Columbia, Canada, has been named a national winner of the 2013 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates twenty-five inspiring, public-spirited young people from all across America who have made a significant positive difference to people and our planet. The top ten to fifteen winners each receive a $5,000 cash award to support their service work or higher education. For more information please visit www.barronprize.org