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Teens Take Action ‘From Waste to Wonder’

Teen Action Fair inspires Gen Z to find new ways to change the world

Sharon Mead headshot

Published on: March 08, 2024

Youth Ambassador members pose together during Teen Action Fair 2023. Photo credit: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Youth Ambassador members pose together during Teen Action Fair 2023. Photo credit: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Editor’s note: This article was sponsored by the Gates Foundation Discovery Center.

Ready, set, take action! The annual Gates Foundation Discovery Center Teen Action Fair is ready to inspire teens to get involved in their community, connect with organizations and make changes for a better world. And everyone is invited.

On Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m.–3 p.m., the Teen Action Fair welcomes visitors to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center; you’ll feel the positive energy when you walk in the door. Created by teens in the Discovery Center’s Youth Ambassador Program, this event is designed to help other teens become inspired, connected and involved in various organizations.

This year’s theme, “From Waste to Wonder,” takes inspiration from the Discovery Center’s current exhibition, “A Better Way to Go: Toilets and the Future of Sanitation,” a new exhibition that showcases innovative and critical ways to improve access to safe sanitation around the world. This exhibit explores how we as a community can address issues that affect our world and health, as well as do something about challenges that often create inequity.

To learn more about this year’s fair, we spoke with Anika Chitnis, a current Youth Ambassador Program member. She shared with ParentMap what to expect — and what she is looking forward to — at this year’s Teen Action Fair.

Tell me a little about yourself and the Youth Ambassador Program.

I am a junior in high school and enjoy reading, baking and teaching dance. I’ve lived in the Seattle area my whole life, and getting involved in the community is something that is really important to me.

The Youth Ambassador Program is led by teens who are highly motivated to make a difference in local and global communities, engaging in various social movements through volunteering, activism, the arts and more.

What are the main things you’d like others to know about the Teen Action Fair?

I think everyone should keep in mind that the Teen Action Fair is a completely free opportunity to connect with multiple organizations in the greater Seattle area. There are amazing live performances, games and activities that promote new learning to give back to the community. Above all, I think the best part about the Teen Action Fair is the people you have the opportunity to meet, connect with and learn from.

The Teen Action Fair showcases youth performances, thought-provoking art installations, interactive exhibits and various opportunities to participate in important civic dialogue.

This year’s theme is from “Waste to Wonder.” What inspired the Youth Ambassadors to pick that theme?

When we reflected on the upcoming exhibit, “A Better Way to Go: Toilets and the Future of Sanitation,” what first came to my mind was the idea of turning something ordinary or overlooked, like waste, into something more meaningful. To me, “Waste to Wonder” means turning the things that are often seen as mundane into opportunities for creativity, growth and positive change.

Dancers at the Teen Action Fair
Dancers perform at a pervious Teen Action Fair. Photo credit: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Is there something in particular that excites you about this year’s event?

I’m excited about the incredible array of organizations at the event. These organizations represent a diverse range of causes and initiatives, from environmental conservation to social justice and beyond. What’s truly inspiring is the opportunity for attendees to connect directly with representatives from these organizations, learn about their missions and discover how they can get involved or support their efforts.

What other activities should attendees expect to find?

There will be a variety of fun activities such as games related to the theme and activities with the organizations. For example, last year we had a scavenger hunt activity in which those who completed it won a free t-shirt.

What do you expect attendees will take away from the experience of being at this year’s Teen Action Fair?

I would love to see attendees discover specific ideas on how they can get involved in their communities. Like many other teens around me, I find that often the hardest part about taking action is finding out how to start, and I hope people will find ways to turn their passions into action.

Additionally, a big takeaway I’d like to see is attendees receiving more information about the sixth Sustainable Development Goal, which is clean water and sanitization. Understanding the importance of this goal and how individuals can contribute to achieving it is crucial for creating a more sustainable and equitable world for future generations.

Girls sitting at an info table at the Teen Action Fair Gates Foundation Discover Center
Come learn how to get involved! Photo credit: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Why did you become involved with the Youth Ambassadors program?

I became involved in the Youth Ambassador program to learn from like-minded peers and mentors, speak up on issues I’m passionate about and spread activism to the youth community. Working with the other Gates Foundation Youth Ambassadors has provided me the opportunity to learn about the different issues the next generation feels passionate about through diverse perspectives. I have found a community with an atmosphere of warmth and inclusivity that encourages collaboration, learning and meaningful connections.

How do teens become involved in the Youth Ambassador program?

Teens can apply each summer for the upcoming year. The application for the Youth Ambassador Program is found on the Gates Foundation Discovery Center website under the Youth Programs tab. In the meantime, any teen who is interested may reach out to members of the Youth Ambassador Program with any questions about the program or how to get involved in the community. Better yet, come to the Teen Action Fair and we’ll help you get involved!

If you go …

When: Saturday, March 23, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. (No RSVP required)

Where: Gates Foundation Discovery Center, 440 Fifth Avenue North, Seattle, across the street on the eastside of Seattle Center, near Memorial Stadium.

Cost: Free.

Getting There: Park on a surface lot at Seattle Center, directly across Fifth Avenue, or several nearby parking garages. For public transit, take the Monorail to the Seattle Center or Metro bus routes 3 and 4.

Sponsored by:

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