You’re never too young to change the world – Valeria Hansen – #YouWowMe 20

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“Your daughter has this implausible notion that she can actually change the world.”

Valeria Hansen’s elementary school teacher told these words to Valeria’s mother 5 years ago.   “She has to put her feet on the ground because I don’t have time to listen to her ideas.  I’m a teacher and I have to prepare for the FCAT.”

Those words would normally deflate the enthusiasm of a then 11 year-old girl.  But Valeria was actually inspired to prove her teacher wrong.  And now, as a 16 year-old junior in high school, she has done just that.

For example, in the last 10 months Valeria has logged over 1,400 volunteer hours as the founder & president of the South Florida Girl Up — a campaign of the United Nations Foundation which unites girls in the U.S. to raise awareness about issues affecting girls in less developed countries.

 1,400 hours in 10 months is an average of at least 30 hours per week in volunteer work just for this campaign.  This is in addition to being a straight A student, serving as the Teen Ambassador at the Broward Center for Performing Arts and launching “Teens for the Arts” to promote more space for the Arts in Broward County schools.  Oh, and she sings, dances and acts!

When I asked Valeria what inspires her to do all this, she replied “I like seeing magic happen in front of me.”

Valeria sees how important people and relationships are, and explained: “the organization can be amazing, the mission can be profound and moving but it’s the people who you work with and who mentor you that make you feel at home.”

Two people who have inspired “wowed” Valeria are her teen ambassador mentors: Jill Kratish and Bill Montgomery of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Valeria is the 20th subject in my next photography exhibit  #YouWowMe –  the first-ever photography project to combine portraiture and personal words of inspiration which are passed to the next person — i.e. a “pay it forward” of inspirational photography.

To view more #YouWowMe portraits, go here.

Follow all the #YouWowMe people here: Facebook — Instagram — Pinterest — Twitter  — Google+ — Flickr — LinkedIn

Would you or someone you know like to be in this photography exhibit?  Do you live in Southern Florida, Maine, NH, Boston, San Francisco or New York (places I try to visit regularly)?

Feel free to contact me at 305-333-6388 or EMAIL ME

Maybe you’ll be the next #YouWowMe.

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