Empowering Girls

Clockwise from top left, Haven Coleman, Genesis Butler, and Iris Zhan pose with American Girl dolls ...
Photos courtesy Haven Coleman, Genesis Butler, and Iris Zhan

Exclusive: American Girl Teamed Up With 3 Teen Activists To Raise Awareness About The Climate Crisis

Meet three young female leaders speaking up on climate solutions & inspiring others to do the same.

by Morgan Brinlee

American Girl is on a mission to foster empathy, equality, and respect while encouraging kids to speak up with character and confidence. This time, they’re getting a bit of help from a few young friends. As part of its Conversations for Change series, American Girl teamed up with teen climate activists to discuss the current climate crisis and inspire young people to raise their voices in support of the climate movement.

In “Use Your Outside Voice: Climate Change,” a Conversations for Change episode set to premiere today, three teenage changemakers share why caring about the climate is important and how even young kids can have a big impact.

“Sometimes you can think, ‘I’m just one person what can I do, how can this help?’” 14-year-old Genesis Butler, the founder of Genesis for Animals and Youth Climate Save, says in the episode. “But one person can really make a huge difference because they can influence others to want to do the same.”

Joining Genesis and moderator Lucy Biggers of NowThis News to talk about climate change and the youth-led climate movements are fellow teen activists 17-year-old Iris Zhan, a co-founder of Fridays For Future Digital and the founder of a local Sunrise Movement hub, and 14-year-old Haven Coleman, founder of Arid Agency and co-founder of US Youth Climate Strike. Erin Teagan, a former biochemist and the American Girl author behind both the Luciana book series and the Kira book series, also joins the round table discussion.

While the teens are big believers that anyone of any age can make a difference, they understand it can be daunting for kids and adults alike to know where or how to start. But they — and American Girl — are hoping that by sharing their own stories of advocacy and activism, they’ll help others find their own paths into the climate movement.

“I think that the ‘Use Your Outside Voice: Climate Change’ episode will be really great for all girls to see,” Haven, who visited different schools to educate other kids about the seriousness of climate change and share resources for action, tells Romper. “Hearing the stories of others shows young girls that their opportunities are limitless. I was so pumped to have the opportunity to work with American Girl, because they’ve been empowering and giving voice to girls for years, including me!”

As for those who may find the idea of becoming an advocate or activist a bit nerve-wracking, Iris hopes her story of being a vocal Asian climate activist will inspire others to step outside their own comfort zones.

“I have become one of the most vocal Asian female climate activists, which defies the stereotypes of the model minority myth, and the submissiveness of Asians and women,” she tells Romper. “I hope my story can inspire more young girls to get out of their comfort zone. Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. I am telling you that it is worth it in the end as you will meet amazing people, have incredible experiences, and grow stronger as a person. You are never too young to make a difference.”

To support the climate movement, American Girl has announced plans to donate $25,000 toward the creation of a new climate awareness curriculum and student leader training program at Earth Uprising, a global youth-led nonprofit that focuses on climate education, advocacy and mobilization. Additionally, American Girl is matching customer donations to NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service Inc. (WIRES) dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $25,000. The wildlife rescue helps to rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife.

Catch “Use Your Outside Voice: Climate Change,” the second episode of American Girl’s Conversations for Change series, on the brand’s website. Or catch up on the series’ first episode, “4 Generations of Black Voices.”