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Behind the Scenes

Meet Our Extraordinary Teens!

A few months ago we sought out to find some super-stellar teens through our Extraordinary Teens contest. Today, we are thrilled to introduce some INCREDIBLY talented teens! Meet them below and learn how they are giving back and making a difference in their communities! Check back over the next 12 weeks as we will be highlighting each one of them!PBteenExtraordinaryTeens

Taylor Tinsley, 17

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Taylor is making a difference for adopted and foster kids in her community through The Maria Joy Foundation. Her foundation promotes youth literacy and child adoption awareness, plus raises funds for foster children in Southeast Michigan. Events like the annual Read with Me party plus family mentoring programs provide a safe environment, not to mention a fun place to learn, grow and make friends. The Maria Joy Foundation even offers awards and scholarships to give these kids as many education opportunities as possible.

Nicholas Lowinger, 17

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Nicholas is helping homeless kids put their best foot forward. Since 2010, his foundation has donated brand-new shoes to more than 31,000 kids living in 92 shelters across 37 U.S. states. Each new pair of shoes is given with a personalized message inside a card designed specially by him. Through the Gotta Have Sole Foundation, he has activated over 100 youth leaders in 5 states to rally thousands of their peers to assist homeless youth in their own communities.

Samuel Ventura, 15

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Samuel is getting teens to broaden their horizons and make an impact as global citizens – starting with their own communities. At the beginning of his freshman year of high school, he co-founded the Jr. World Affairs Society (JWAS) with his twin brother, Jayden. Their mission is to educate teens about worldwide affairs and issues and to inspire them to give back. They hold mock debates and educational meetings, and they provide aid to the needy and participate in volunteer projects.

Gabby Frost, 17

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Gabby is turning Twitter into a teen support system. After meeting online peers who struggle with suicidal thoughts, self-harm and eating disorders, she founded Buddy Project – a modern day pen pal system supporting teens on Twitter@ProjectBuddy. All her sign-ups are paired by interest and age group with the hope that they’ll form strong friendships. With over 105,000 people signed up to be paired with a buddy, her group helps teens across the globe through positivity and companionship, while reducing the stigma of mental illness, bullying, and negativity on social media.

Andy Nguyen, 17

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Andy steps behind the camera to shine the spotlight on others. What started as his art elective assignment turned into his documentary film, “A Day in the Life of Widener Memorial,” which shares the story of Widener Memorial School, a K-12 public school that exclusively serves students with disabilities. Through his filmmaking, Andy educates viewers on the various therapeutic departments of Widener and the student-teacher interactions, and their partnership with his high school, William Penn Charter School.

Riley Gantt, 14

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Riley learned that elementary school students from low-income families can’t always complete their homework, so she founded the Rainbow Pack nonprofit to help close the achievement gap. Each $10 donation provides one backpack full of school supplies to one student, and $300 provides packs for an entire Kindergarten class. Since it’s start over 5,500 underprivileged elementary school kids have received the homework supplies they need to be successful.

Zach Morgan, 10

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Zach is helping boost the confidence of kids fighting illnesses. His nonprofit organization, Zach’s Lidz For Kidz, coordinates hat drives across the U.S. to collect brand new donations. Through partnerships with children’s hospitals and cancer services organizations, over 1,500 hats have been donated. Zach earned national attention when the Hasbro Toy Company honored him with its Community Action Hero Award in 2013. As a community Ambassador for Hasbro, he has also donated over 900 toys through local charities.

Payton Pelaez, 10

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Payton founded a delicious way to give back. A pastry chef with his own homemade dessert business, Chez Pay, he delivers fresh desserts to friends and neighbors and donates 20% of his proceeds to charity. A believer in doing what you love (and a contestant on the FOOD NETWORK “Kids Baking Championship“), Payton’s creations share his sweet skills and benefit organizations like The American Red Cross, The Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Kiva.

Pooja Chandrashekar, 17

ALEXANDRIA, VA - APRIL 6: Pooja Chandrashekar, 17, at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Alexandria, Virginia Monday April 6, 2015. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

Pooja is on a mission to get more girls involved in computer science and technology. She noticed a big gender gap in her computer science classes, so after her sophomore year she founded ProjectCSGIRLS to help close it. With the simple goal of encouraging more girls to develop a passion for technology, her nonprofit organization has grown to host the nation’s largest computer science competition for middle school girls and it organizes workshops and mentorships around the country.

Brittany Amano, 17

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Brittany started out by tackling the problems in her own backyard, and then she turned that experience into widespread change. She has founded not one, but two, nonprofits:  Hawaii’s Future Isn’t Hungry and Teens Stopping Domestic Violence. Through these two organizations, she feeds the hungry, promotes literacy and provides mentorships to youth in low-income housing complexes and homeless shelters. With the help of over 400 youth volunteers, her work has positively impacted over 150, 000 people.

Victoria Coaxum, 17

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Victoria is changing the way young people interact online. In the summer of 2012, she cofounded Think Before You Type, Inc. (TBYT), an anti-cyberbullying and positive self-esteem nonprofit. Even while she spends her senior year studying abroad in Indonesia (thanks to a scholarship through the YES Abroad program), Tori keeps using social media and her positive voice to encourage teens to use the internet for good and to raise awareness about cyberbullying.

Lulu Cerone, 16

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After learning that just $1 supplies a person in Africa with clean water for a year, Lulu founded LemonAID Warriors to turn social events into social change. Over the past 5 years, she – and her army of youth volunteers – has used PhilanthroParties to raise $80,000+ for various causes and provided clean water to almost 3,000 Africans. By sharing PhilanthroParty planning advice and creative action plans (which has been downloaded 165,000+ times!), Lulu has inspired countless others to take action.

What makes you extraordinary? We want to know! Enter our contest here for a chance to be featured on PBteen!

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