MY HERO Curated Resources for Middle School: Youth Activists

Inspire your students and enhance their learning at home with these resources from MY HERO. Includes questions and research activities that can be assigned to students.


Students read about youth environmental activists and how they have made a difference, then consider the discussion questions


Upstanders: The Kids Who Killed an Incinerator

Produced by:Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran [Starbucks]
The high school students who battled a giant incinerator — and won.

Olivia's Birds and the Oil Spill

Produced by:Lynne Cherry

Young Olivia loves birds, and created over 500 paintings of her feathered friends to raise funds for Audubon's bird rescue. (Running Time - 6:45 minutes)

Discussion Questions

1. Destiny and Olivia are examples of how an individual can make a positive difference. What motivated these three environmental heroes to become a leader in their communities?

2. Research issues in your community. What can you and your peers do? Share your story.

3. Share the story of environmental heroes in your community with MY HERO. 


Learn about Mohamed Sidibay and Mendy Kanu, two young activists working for better access to education for all youth.


Mohamed Sidibay: Teaching Peace

Producer: The MY HERO Project

Mohamed Sidibay is a survivor of a horrific civil war in Sierra Leone, where he was forced to fight as a child soldier. Now he advocates for better access to education worldwide. (2:48 min)

Mendy Kanu started the Children's Foundation of Technology in Sierra Leone to bring education to children in poverty. Listen to his students' song. (4:32 minutes)

Mendy Kanu
Credit: Mendy Kanu


Students learn about Malala Yousafzai by reading the following stories, analyzing the artwork and watching the film trailer. 


Malala Yousafzai: The One With a Voice

By: Alex Zakoor

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for girls' education and the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala Yousafzai

By: Jane Wallace

Malala Yousafzai speaks out for the rights of girls to have an education. This story has both text and audio. 

Malala by Marilyn Huerta

By: Marilyn Huerta

Malala the young activist who champions girls' education worldwide is painted by Marilyn Huerta

Malala Yousafzai by Avery from Cochrane

By: Avery

Malala has really impressed this student with her bravery and unselfish nature. She acts courageously to help other young women

He Named Me Malala - Official Trailer

Produced by:Laurie MacDonald

HE NAMED ME MALALA is a portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Discussion Questions

1. Both Mohamed Sidibay and Malala Yousafzai are advocates for children's equal rights to education. Who else is an advocate for children's rights to education? Share his or her story with MY HERO.                                                         

2. Mendy Kanu saw a need in his community and started the Children's Foundation of Technology in Sierra Leone for impoverished children. Do you know of other people bringing education to children in need? Share their story with MY HERO.

3. What can you do to ensure that all children have access to education? Research places in need, create an action plan and share your story with MY HERO.  


Students read the story about Iqbal Masih, a child from Pakistan who was sold into slavery by his father when he was 4 and escaped slavery at the age of 10. He began speaking internationally and was awarded the Reebok Human Rights Youth Award when he was 12 years old.  


Iqbal Masih

By: Stephanie and Audrey<br> from Forest Hills

Iqbal Masih was a brave advocate for child labor laws in Pakistan.

Iqbal Masih by Sydney from Laguna Beach

Iqbal Masih was a Pakistani Christian boy who became a symbol of abusive child labour in the developing world


Students read the story about Samantha Smith, a grade school student and peace activist. Then analyze the portrait by Robert Shetterly, noticing the text used in the portrait. 


Samantha Smith

By: Abbie from Taipei

Story about Samantha Smith.

Samantha Smith

Samantha Reed Smith (June 29, 1972 – August 25, 1985) was an American girl who became known as "America's Youngest Ambassador" in the United States and the "Goodwill Ambassador" in the Soviet Union during her short lifetime.


She wrote : "If we could be friends by just getting to know each other better, then what are our countries really arguing about? Nothing could be more important than not having a war if a war could kill everything."

Grade school student and peace activist, (1972 - 1985) Samantha was just 10 years old when she wrote the premier of the Soviet Union to ask him about his intentions for waging war. Yuri Andropov invited her to visit the Soviet Union and the success of her trip launched a 3 year odyssey of traveling the world, advocating for peace. Tragically, she and her father were killed in a plane wreck while returning home after one of their numerous peace missions.



Students read the story to learn about Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when an American atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima near her home. Sadako inspired an international peace movement. Then analyze the artwork noticing the use of text. 


Sadako Sasaki

By: Amanda E.

Sadako Sasaki inspired an international peace movement.

Sadako Sasaki

By: Saint George

Sadako Sasaki was a Japanese girl who was two years old when an American atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, near her home next to the Misasa Bridge.

Discussion Questions and Activities

1. Each of the young people featured have made a positive difference. How are these heroes alike? How are they different?

2. Which of these causes is important to you: climate change, ending child slavery, global peace, access to education for all, or another global issue? Research others working towards a solution and share their story with MY HERO.

3. Identify an issue that is important to you or your community. What can you do? Create an action plan, get others involved and share the story of your efforts with MY HERO.


Students Learn about Climate Youth Activist and Filmmaker Slater Jewell-Kemker by reading the story, analyzing the poster and watching the film. 


Slater Jewell-Kemker, Director, An Inconvenient Youth

By: The My Hero Project

Slater Jewell-Kemker is an award-winning student reporter and filmmaker who works for a better environment and for peace. 

An Inconvenient Youth - Cancun

Produced by:Slater Jewell-Kemker
Youth activists are exasperated by a lack of action from world leaders regarding climate change.

Poster art for An Inconvenient Youth Film by Slater Jewell-Kemker

By: Dustin Rabin and Geoffrey David Barr Watson

Students can share their Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program

Outstanding essays submitted to MY HERO will be considered for a certificate/t-shirt prize or be featured on the Story Homepage.

Submit your artwork to be entered in the MY HERO art contest or to be exhibited on our Gallery Homepage.

Students can submit their films for free with a waiver to the MY HERO International Film Festival.

How to use MY HERO's Create Program to Publish Stories, Art, Film and Audio for Students

By: Laura Nietzer

Tutorial for students

Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Use the MY HERO Calendar in the Classroom

Organizer created on 3/17/2020 8:19:53 PM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 9/14/2022 11:19:24 AM by Laura Nietzer