Our children are our future – and these two young local role models are teaching us how to be bold

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(Image: Supplied by H&M)
(Image: Supplied by H&M)

As our world deals with waves of change both environmentally and socially, it can be tough to keep up with all the things that need our attention and support. More and more we are seeing teens and tweens speak up on social causes that require our global attention to ensure the sustainability and protection of the one home we all share – earth. 

It is with this growing bravery in the global youth in mind that H&M launched their global initiative earlier this year to recognise and celebrate young role models. The initiative aims to empower young voices shining a light on social equality, environmental sustainability, education, and more. The global fashion retailer partnered with double Oscar-nominated director, Bryan Buckley. The film interviews a range of young voices across the globe as they share their passions to build a sustainable future - extending the opportunity for Mzansi’s very own role models to enter and share their initiatives on the global stage. 

Watch the film below to get a closer look at the inspiring young role models H&M have celebrated: 

H&M is introducing these role models from around the world and shedding light on their causes.

The definition of a role model for H&M is somebody we can all learn something from and be inspired by to progress towards a better tomorrow. Kids with the potential and purpose to make us grown-ups feel small. 

Sofia Löfstedt, Head of Design Kids at H&M, explains just how these inspiring kids are timely reminders of the work we all should be doing to support these rising stars. “It’s been so uplifting and motivating to learn how kids are driving change around the world - in their local communities and beyond it. We’re very happy to be putting a spotlight on them and their work, supporting and empowering them. We look forward to seeing what more they will achieve in the years to come,” she says. 

Meet Mzansi’s very own H&M role models, who, despite their age, are speaking up for the voiceless and raising awareness on matters they hold close to their hearts. 

Young Bontle Ndhlovu from Pretoria has recently published a book about a family ocean adventure at the tender age of 8-years-old. Her book, titled ‘The Oceanic Oxy Rescue Mission’, is available from her mom Refilwe or via Ethnikids Book Store and follows the journey of Nyla and her family navigating the great big ocean. On what inspires and motivates her, Bontle explains, “There are a lot of things I want to do in my life, like singing and writing more books. Being creative and wanting to create things inspires me.” She adds that kids with big dreams should not shy away from chasing them, “Share it with your parents and they can help you. Work hard and you can do whatever you want, nothing can stop you,” she adds. And when it comes to the roles adults can play, Bontle explains how the role of listening and supporting their kids is a vital one. But, she adds, adults too should chase their dreams: “They must also go after their dreams. They must study and work hard and never give up.” 

Bontle Ndhlovu portrait

(Image: Supplied by H&M)

Similarly, 9-year-old Tegan van Niekerk from Alberton was born profoundly deaf and had received two cochlear implants when she was 15 months old and 27 months old, respectively. She has affectionately dubbed them her ‘magic ears’ and enjoys taking time to creatively decorate them. Tegan never shies away from reaching for her dreams, having won the title of model of the year and being the former Miss Deaf Petite South Africa, she has become an inspiration to the deaf community. Her unique life experience is what inspired the newly formed Magic Ears Foundation – an NGO that aims to raise funds for hearing impaired children in South Africa. Tegan shared with us what inspires and motivates her to make a change each day. "I try to show little ladies, of all races and backgrounds, that no matter the prejudice you face or dis/ability you experience - you can achieve anything you put your mind to,” she explains. She also believes that kids navigating challenges she had to can become the best versions of themselves by believing in themselves and having family support. In her message to adults, Tegan adds, “Allow your kids to be different, be proud that God made you like no one else. Let them believe in themself so they can be their best version of themselves despite your shortcomings.” Her hopes going forward are that more people and children have the opportunity and access to experience the miracle and life-changing devices that cochlear implants are. 

Tegan van Niekerk portrait

(Image: Supplied by H&M)

To support both Tegan and Bontle’s initiatives follow Life to Her Ears on Facebook and @adventures_with_bontle on Instagram, respectively. Get inspired by the stories of young H&M role models who are tackling issues of sustainability and social change, hoping to ignite a better and brighter future for all. 

Read more about H&M’s Role Model initiative here.  

H&M Role Models graphics

(Images: Supplied by H&M)

@HM_Kids #RolemodelsxHM #HMkids

This post is sponsored by H&M produced by BrandStudio24 for W24.  

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