Christoper Kleynhans, a 16-year-old teenager from Cape Town, was recently chosen as a Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leader (GTL) for 2020 and will attend the summit in New York in March 2020.
This comes after the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) announced the 35 teenagers chosen to be Global Teen Leaders earlier in 2020. These teenagers, who are between the age of 15 and 19, will ultimately represent 18 countries on six continents. At the summit, they will eventually tool-up and recalibrate through innovative content and action-driven workshops geared to help further amplify their work and impact.
Swim for Change
Christopher’s “work” refers to his non-profit organisation, Swim for Change, which he started back in January 2015. It is said that the organisation works to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and educate teachers and parents about properly supporting youth with mental health challenges.
Christopher is a swimmer himself. He believes that there is no way that he can exclude it from being a part of what drives the way in which he can contribute to society. And so he continues to use “swimathons” to fund mental health education and awareness projects, and additionally hosts workshops, podcasts and blogs to create further dialogue surrounding mental wellness.
Christopher is said to be excited for the opportunity to learn from such experienced and influential people. He doesn’t feel that he is too young to contribute to society and his hope is that more young people can be given opportunities such as this.
“To have someone believe in you this much feels a bit like you’ve been given superpowers and it changes everything,” he said.
In 2019, Swim For Changewas nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize Award and Christopher was invited to the Nobel Peace Laureate Youth Summit in Merida, Mexico.
While Swim For Change has currently impacted 6 000 young South Africans, Christopher is working to reach at least 20 000 more in 2020. He also hopes to convince the South African government to implement a national suicide prevention plan and require about mental health policies in schools.
In the future, Christopher wants to lead mental health workshops in schools in all African nations, and hopefully worldwide.
Global Teen Leader 2020
It is reported that the applicants were carefully selected and curated from hundreds of applicants.
“They are engineering sustainable skyscrapers, developing urban gardens, healing relationships between communities and the police, and developing tools to detect serious illnesses, as they demand a lead role in shaping our future.”
We Are Family Foundation co-founder and chairperson Nile Rodgers said that he is inspired each year by these leaders.
“Just listening to their voices and their ideas gives me a huge amount of hope. It’s one of the most amazing parts of my life. A couple of years ago this profound thought came to me, If our summit took place during an apocalypse, our Global Teen Leaders would have the know how to survive and rebuild.”