Happy 15th to Our Resident Dude

Low fat low sugar cupcakes --
that Leo graciously ate anyhow
[image: yellow cupcakes with piped
chocolate frosting.]
Leo's 15th birthday was two days ago. There was much cupcaking, over three birthday events over two days -- which meant three iterations of being sung Happy Birthday, which Leo looooved.

He also enjoyed the cupcakes I made for him even though they were from a low sugar, low fat recipe. I ate one, and it wasn't ... awful. One of Leo's friends needed the "tangy" chocolate frosting scraped from his tongue, so intense was his NOOOO reaction. But Leo, selective though he is, tends to accommodate items in the 'sweets' category. Possibly because, as a friend of ours who is on a diet similar to Leo's said: after a few months of doing without, anything even remotely sweet and luscious tastes like fudge.

Here are the three birthday celebrations held in honor of our very loved and extremely pleased teen dude:

At the traditional local bouncy house party palace:
[image: white teen boy with curly
brown hair, sitting in a colorful
room and blowing out a candle
on a cupcake.]

In his classroom at school:
[image: white teen boy with curly brown hair, sitting at a table
and smiling a the camera, next to a be-candled cupcake.]

And at home with his loving family of smartasses:
[image: white teen boy with curly brown hair,
about to blow out a cupcake birthday candle,
while a white bespectacled tween girl
does "rabbit ears" fingers behind his head,
& a white teen girl hugs a black-and-white cat.]

Our family had so much fun celebrating Leo's birthday with him, his classmates, and his friends -- it's never a bad thing to be around contagious joy. But Leo's actual birthday also had bittersweet overtones for me, as I spent much of the day moderating TPGA FB comments about the murder of autistic teen Dustin Hicks, at the hands of his mother. And it looks as though, like my former self, his mother was a biomedical/pseudoscience cure-seeker, as Matt Carey writes at Left Brain/Right Brain.

Dustin and Leo are not that far apart in age. If I'd still been emotionally invested in the misinformation-based belief that autism is an injury and that Leo could be cured if only I found the right potion, how different would all our lives be right now? Would I feel like a failure as a parent? Would Leo's birthdays be thinly disguised pity parties? Would any parties actually be about and for him?

Or would I still be part of those toxic communities that consider publicly complaining about and degrading autistic children "honesty" instead of degradation? If I got openly and deeply depressed about Leo not being "cured," would those community members commiserate with me, or dismiss my depression signs as "what autism mamas are like," instead of helping me find real, and realistic, resources to help us both? Would I internalize stories of parents who considered murder their only option when they failed to "fix" their kids, watch the misguided and horrifying public outpourings of support for those parents' "burdens," and be influenced by them?

I hope not. I hope I'd be as disgusted by people who talk about what a "loving mom" Dustin's murderer was as I am today, and as upset when people insist that these crimes happen because of lack of services, rather than because our society devalues the lives of people like Leo.


But back to our dude. Yesterday I took him sock shopping, because we wanted to keep that party atmosphere going. He chose a ten pack of these Florida grandpa black ankle socks. I asked several times if that was really what he wanted, and he never wavered.

A male family friend who embodies hip young male coolness assured us that black socks really are where it's at these days, and that no one wears white socks. His sister Iz insists the problem is not the socks, it's the Crocs.

Whatever. Leo gets to wear what he wants. Though I might just walk a few paces behind him, in public.

[image: close up of the feet and ankles of a white dude
wearing black ankle socks with olive green Crocs.]


Pumpkin Patches and Mezcal

Autism acceptance doesn't magically turn Leo's or my life into sugar-topped cakewalks, just so you know. (Allow me a smidge of irritation over how often Pollyanna charges gets leveled at us.)

I accept that many things are hard for Leo because he's autistic, that I can't understand why they're hard if I approach those roadblocks like a non-autistic person would, but that if I try to see and understand matters from his perspective -- his unique autistic perspective -- things get easier for both of us.

But I can't make everything in his life about being autistic either, because that means I end up underestimating him in other ways, specifically regarding how much he is maturing. Oftentimes, I'm the one who's lagging behind, in terms of adjusting to the sometimes decreasing amounts of backup Leo needs to navigate this world.

An example: last week, after several days of promising Leo I'd take him to a jumpy house pumpkin patch, I finally managed to get him and Mali to the closest one. And after all that build up, after all the yays and the "we're here!," and the walking between and pointing at the inflatable slide and the jumpy house, and declaring how proud I was that he didn't grab any candy from the bins scattered all around the check-in area...

...the woman manning the gate told Leo he couldn't go in, because he was too big, and because there were lots of little kids. She wasn't nice about it, either.

Reader, I almost died. How could Leo not have a meltdown (not a tantrum, a meltdown), given how excited he was, and how long he'd been waiting to go, yet things didn't go as planned?

I was paralyzed. I hadn't considered the possibility that Leo would be barred from a pumpkin patch -- it's never happened before -- and I had no back up plan to help Leo deal with such a huge disappointment.

Image: A snifter of mezcal, and some orange slices.
After a few sputtering beats, I paraphrased what the Grinchy gatekeeper said -- told Leo I was sorry, but that apparently the pumpkin patch was for little kids right now and he he had grown so much since last Halloween that now he was too big, and I hadn't known he could be too big. That I knew he really wanted to go, but maybe he could settle for ... (crap) a trip to the forbidden halls of Dairy Queen instead?

And you know what? Leo didn't protest or complain once. He agreed to go to Dairy Queen for a small plain vanilla cone that he's really, really not supposed to have but, you know, desperate times; he ate the cone with delight, and we went home and passed an uneventful evening.

(His mother, on the other hand, took several hours to recover from the what-could-have-happened adrenaline rush of having her happy, expectant son being denied admission to a favorite place, eventually resorting to a double shot of reposado mezcal with orange slices, once the kids were to bed. Is it Leo or is it his mother who had the better set of coping skills, do you think?)

I was still determined to get Leo to a &!!%*! pumpkin patch. And a few days later, I was not only successful but found a patch ten times better than that silly run-of-the-mill place that wouldn't let him in. This place had inflatable human-size hamster balls that float on water! Leo was ecstatic, and I was amped up on joy for my dude (and his little sister, and her friend).

Boy (and Girls) in the Bubble(s)
[image: white teen boy kneeling inside a transparent inflatable bubble, in
large inflatable wading pool. Two other bubbles with kids inside are behind him.]
All Hail the Floating Bubble!
[image: white teen boy lying inside an inflatable bubble,
arms raised, in a large inflatable wading pool.]
No mezcal needed, that second time. It was the best time ever, for all of us. But I might need another snort right now, after reliving that first nixing. (Bitch.)


Achievement Unlocked: We Have a Driver

[image: white teen girl with long curly dark
blonde hair holding up her new driver's license.]
This kid is now a licensed driver. In the scant few hours since getting her license, she has:

1) Driven to a friend's house in another city
2) Driven herself to and from soccer practice
3) Decided that she wanted a specific kind of snack from the grocery store, drove herself there, and paid for the snack with her own money (did I mention that she also has a job?)

All good things, all good things. All really weird things.  All big steps that will lead to bigger steps that will lead to her being gone in less than a year, if her plans come to fruition.

I haven't been great about recording milestones. These milestones need recording. *sob*


Don't Blame Autistic People, or Mental Illness, For Mass Shootings

The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) felt compelled to issue a statement debunking media myths linking autism and mental illness with violence:
"Recent media reports have attempted to suggest a link between individuals on the autism spectrum and violent behavior. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network [ASAN] is concerned by the proliferation of misinformation which may contribute to increased stigma and discrimination against Autistic Americans. Autistic people are no more likely than any other group to commit acts of violence. People with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. There is no link between autism and violent crime. Similarly, there is no link between psychiatric disability and violent crime."
You might assume the statement is a response to emerging reports about the Umpqua Community Colllege shooter being on the autism spectrum, but that statement was actually written almost 18 months ago in response to a different spate of violence and the resulting media missteps. ASAN's words were relevant then, and are unfortunately relevant now. Please share them widely.

Why does the media continue to perpetuate these myths about autistic people planning mass murders? As Emily Willingham pointed out the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, it's because of assumptions that autistic people lack empathy, because people mistakenly assume empathy is a monolithic state. But there is a distinct difference between cognitive empathy (recognizing physical and social emotional cues and acting on them, which can be difficult for autistic people) and emotional empathy (identifying with another person's recognized emotional state, which autistic people can do just fine). Because autistic people have their own ways of reacting to emotional situations, people who aren't autistic can mischaracterize their autistic peers as unfeeling -- when in fact it's usually the opposite that's true: autistic people are often overwhelmed by emotional empathy to the point of paralysis.

And it can't be repeated enough that autistic people, like those who are mentally ill, are far -- far -- more likely to be victims of violence than to commit violent acts. John Oliver addressed this issue in detail, in the context of media (and ignorant dillweeds like Trump and Carson) blaming mental illness for the UCC shooting. (Video without captions, apologies.)

Autistic or mentally ill individuals are also less likely to plan violent acts -- when they are violent or aggressive, it is usually a reaction to being provoked or having their environmental tolerance limits bridged, and is a panicked, fight-or-flight response. People running on pure instinct and adrenaline are hardly in planning mindsets.

Knowing that autism and mental illness aren't to blame for mass shooting tragedies, isn't going to prevent those tragedies, however. What can we do about having fewer future victims?

There's not a whole lot we can do under our current gun control laws, and as long as American policy makers refuse to acknowledge that countries with stronger gun contol regulations have dramatically few gun-related deaths. Currently, Americans can get a gun more easily than they can get an abortion or driver's license, so individuals who have been exposed, conditioned, or encouraged to consider mass violence are going to have the opportunity to act. Currently, not enough Americans or American media outlets give a shit about gun control laws to limit those opportunities. Currently, while the NRA is puppetmastering the GOP,  none of that is likely to change, and more shootings will happen. That's the pattern. That's our current reality.

But you can act. You can sign petitions for better gun control. Even better, you can write to -- or meet with -- your local congress member and tell them how you feel. You'd be amazed at how straightforward arranging such a meeting can be, and what your impact will be.

And in the meantime, please keep keep debunking those myths about autism, mental illness, and mass shootings.


NeuroTribes: We Read It

[image: black and white photo of a white teen boy holding
the book NeuroTribes, in front of bookstore shelves.]
You probably know, if you know us, that a chapter in Steve Silberman's new book NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity is about Leo. The chapter is called "The Boy Who Loves Green Straws," and is excerpted here, at Science Friday(!!). 

NeuroTribes has been out for about a month, and triggered a laudatory avalanche the likes of which I've rarely seen. (Google "NeuroTribes"  if you don't believe me.)

I have many thoughts on the book. Mostly gratitude, for moving the public conversation about autism in the direction I'd like to see it go, and for calling out influential assholes who've harmed autistic people both in the present and in the past. Also for telling people to listen to and support autistic people, instead of every other shitty thing folks tend to do instead.

It's also odd, to see a snapshot of our family from several years ago. The snapshot is accurate, temporally, but it's also not where we are now. We learned so much to get to that place of acceptance, and we've kept learning -- mostly from autistic people -- especially about Leo's innate and irrevocable personhood. I'll try to write more about that.

In the meantime, I suggest reading what a few autistic people have to say about the book, in the form of praise (Patricia George-Zwicker), fair critique (Chavisory), and interviewing Mr. Silberman (Alex Plank).

As far as the Rosenberg reviews go, Iz & Seymour have read the book already. Seymour mostly shares my opinions, including about our personal odd time capsule vibe, and Iz thinks the book is good but makes her sound boring (I don't agree, but I'm not her). Leo, Mali, and I are listening to the audio version in the car. We've only just begun, so Leo hasn't had much of a reaction yet. Mali was thrilled to hear Silberman's expansive definition of neurodiversity, but also wants to know when she gets to hear the part that's about her.

As always, interested in your thoughts.


Get This Book: Sunny Side Up

[image: Light blue book cover
with Sunny Side Up in white text
above an illustration of a blonde
little girl in a pink bathing suit
lying on a pool raft.]
The kids and I are long-time fans of Jennifer and Matt Holm's graphic novels Babymouse and Squish. So we are extra-excited about their new non-Babymouse, non-Squish graphic novel Sunny Side Up, about a ten-year-old girl, Sunny, whose planned idyllic friends-filled summer is upended when she suddenly and without explanation goes instead to stay with her grandfather in a Florida retirement community.

Sunny Side Up is full of the characteristic Holm humor -- with bonus alligators (it does take place in Florida). I actually read it when my kids and I were staying with their own grandparent -- my mother (though she lives in a condo, not a colony). I laughed quite a few times when I read it, as did Mali (who read it several times), and even my mom snorted at several passages, and wondered aloud how the author captured those humorous aspects of retirement culture so well.

But the book is more than humorous. Sunny's simmering bewilderment eventually reveals much more about the complexities and often undiscussed aspects of being a younger sibling to a teen. (To tell you more would be spoiling the ending.) But this is YA territory,  framed thoughtfully and gently for younger kids in similar situations, so they can hopefully better understand their own complex lives, and feel less alone.

But enough about my opinion -- I'm not the target audience. Here's  Mali's review of the book*.


"So, this is Jennifer Holm’s new book, she’s in collaboration with her brother Matthew Holm like she always is for everything. Jennifer L. Holm writes the story and Matthew Holm does the art.

"So this story is about a girl who has been shipped off to Florida to spend time with her grandfather, but she doesn’t know why, and the whole story is about her understanding why she was shipped off to Florida instead of going to a beach house in the Bahamas with her best friend.

"Two things I like about this book is …[1)] it was written by Jennifer Holm. and she’s one of my favorite authors, and 2) is it might help people with something that’s at the end … I won’t spoil it …

"And so the reason I think people should read this book is because it’s a great story, and it will help people if they read it, and if they’re in an alien state or country and they need to try to fit in or something … they can learn to be themselves."


*Disclosure: Mali is bosom buddies with Jenni's eldest. The first version of this video review recommended that you get the book because her friend's mom wrote it. But we read, and I wrote glowing reviews, of Jenni's books before we even met her.


This Girl Is a High School Senior

[image: white teen with long dark blonde hair
wearing a black dress and black backpack.
Photo used with express permission]
This girl is a high school senior. As of yesterday.

This girl is going to take her driver's license test tomorrow.

When I first started writing at this site, this girl was in preschool, and her teachers' biggest concern was that she liked to write sentences in maze format instead of linear format.

Currently, this girl is planning to ask her teachers for  recommendation letters for her college applications.

You'll be glad to know that some things have not changed. Here is what this girl had to say about our country's highest ranking GOP member in 2004:
[image: Child's writing, green ink on a white background
reading, "George Bush is, a big fat liar."]
She is more articulate and detailed about her political beliefs eleven years later, but that statement is still pretty much where she is today.

Regardless, this mom is in shock.


Get Inspired, Donate Vaccines, and Save Lives for Blogust 15!

Blogust is Shot@Life's annual August campaign*, during which each of your social media shares with a #Blogust tag triggers the donation of a life-saving vaccine for a child in need.

Blogust is also one of my favorite times of year. Because it's something I can do. Because as a parent of three kids and a writer, I too often find myself with very little time to make the kind of differences in the world I want to make.

But Blogust makes that so easy. It allows me to do what Malala Yousafzai told me and a group of Bay Area Digital Leaders a few weeks ago, when we attended the ceremony to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter:

"Do not wait for someone else to come and speak for you.
It's you who can change the world."

Malala Yousafzai speaking at the #UN70 Celebration in San Francisco
[image: Teen Pakistani girl wearing a colorful scarf over her head and
shoulders, speaking into a microphone. On her right is white overlaid text
reading "Do not wait for someone else to come and speak for you.
It's you who can change the world."]
My kids were furiously jealous that I got to see Malala in person, but also inspired by what she had to say. Some of those kids are active on social media, so that means that they can invoke Malala's indefatigable drive to make the world a better place, and contribute in this very appropriate way: by liking and sharing #Blogust posts.

I hope you'll participate by liking and sharing #Blogust posts for the rest of the month, too.

Why should you participate? Well, as per the Shot@Life site:
"Vaccines save lives. Millions of children could be spared from measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, polio and other preventable diseases if we could simply get them the vaccines they need. Many children in developing countries lack access to vaccines — often because they live in hard-to-reach communities. The good news is access to vaccines has grown significantly in the last decade. Vaccines currently help save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year. With your help, global vaccination programs implemented by our partners can stop the 1.5 million unnecessary deaths that still happen every year, and ensure that all children, no matter where they live, have a shot at a healthy life."
So share, tweet, and like every #Blogust social media post you possibly can. You can also read and share all the participants' original posts, as well as see the vaccines donations ticker -- 37,000 at the time of this writing -- at www.blogust.org.

It's you who can change the world. It's #Blogust that makes it easy to change the world. What are you waiting for?


*During Shot@Life's Blogust 2015—a month-long blog relay—some of North America's most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share inspirational quotes for their children. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or take action using the social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000).


It's Blogust! Time to Give Kids a Shot@Life!

It's Blogust! That time of year, that annual August period when life-saving advocacy couldn't be easier for good people like you to take part in. When Shot@Life donates a life-saving vaccine to a child in need every time you share the #Blogust tag on public social media (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter).

The tl;dr version?

One #Blogust Comment, One #Blogust Share or One #Blogust Like = One Vaccine 

The just-the-facts version:

  • Humanitarian: A child dies every 20 seconds because they don't have access to life-saving vaccines, and 1 in 5 children lacks access to vaccines. Plus, immunizations save the lives of 2.5 million children, each year.
  • Public Safety: Measles infects 95% of the unvaccinated people who encounter a carrier; polio is only a plane ride away from returning to the United States. And babies can't be vaccinated in against measles in their first year of life. To keep ourselves safe, we must help eradicate vaccine-preventable disease in the rest of the world.
  • Cost-savings: The costs of eradicating smallpox are more than recouped by an annual savings of the one billion dollars that would have been needed for treatment, etc. And we're so close to eliminating polio! The current goal for a polio-free world is 2018, and it's reachable.
The How You Can Help Right Now version:
To kick off #Blogust, the @ShotAtLife team will be hosting a Twitter party on August 3 from 1-2 p.m. ET. We would love to see you there - every tweet with #Blogust or @ShotAtLife during this hour equals one vaccine for a child around the world
And since the subject of autism still (still!) comes up sometimes when we're trying to save lives with vaccines, I've compiled a Pinterest page on Busting Autism-Vaccine Myths. Please feel free to use it as a resource, or let me know about any resources I'm missing.


At SF City Hall the Day the UN Turned 70, SCOTUS Formalized Marriage Equality, and Malala Spoke

June 26th was a day to be at San Francisco City hall. I was invited to attend the UN70 ceremony to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter as part of the Bay Area Digital Leaders initiative, which was thrilling enough -- I knew we'd get to see UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and SF's own Mayor Ed Lee speak. I was honored to witness such recounting of history, listen to such people, and be present during such a milestone.

And then, the morning of the ceremony, SCOTUS ruled that marriage equality was the new law of our land. Much happy hollering happened at our house, I can assure you. Though I arrived at City Hall after the morning's celebratory rally, I still got to see many jubilant people getting married (or celebrating the ability to get married) without worrying that their marriage might be delegitimized by my fine state -- or any other in our more perfect union.

And then, during the gorgeous UN70 ceremony, Malala Yousafzai made a surprise appearance. It turned out she was actually sitting right next to me, just around a pillar on the balcony overlooking the ceremony. And then Malala came and gave a surprise talk to our Bay Area Digital Leaders crew afterward. I was ten feet away from Malala, twice in one day. I nearly swooned, both times.

As you may imagine if you know me, processing such events took a while, which is why I'm only writing about it now. For full details about UN70, I recommend the official UN70 site. But if you want to see my pictures -- and to see my video and read my transcription of Malala's talk, keep scrolling.

(So much wow.)

The UN70 Ceremony
[image: Atrium of San Francisco City Hall, seen from the second floor balcony,
with floor and balconies full of people of all ages, races, and genders.
An iron-railed staircase is lined with flags of different nations and a boys choir,
and leads to a large light blue draped rectangle featuring the white UN logo.]
The UN70 ceremony featured a number of surprise guests, such as our very own Governor, Jerry Brown, who reminisced about being a child in the audience when the UN Charter was first signed. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and UN Foundation founder and chairman Ted Turner were also sitting in the front row.

Governor Jerry Brown addressing the crowd
[image: balding white man wearing a suit,
speaking into a microphone at a podium,
to a large audience, next to a collection
of international flags.]
UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon was charming and inspiring, in delivering his message of the importance of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations:
"Every day, the United Nations makes a positive difference for millions of people: vaccinating children; distributing food aid; sheltering refugees; deploying peacekeepers; protecting the environment; seeking the peaceful resolution of disputes and supporting democratic elections, gender equality, human rights and the rule of law."
UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon
[image: Korean man with short black hair
and glasses wearing a dark suit,
speaking into a microphone at a podium,
next to a collectionof international flags.]
And then, the Secretary-General gestured up to near where I was sitting, and said something about welcoming a Very Special Guest. The crowd started roaring. I couldn't hear exactly what he was saying due to the din, so peeked around the pillar to my left -- and this is who I saw:

Malala Yousafzai and entourage
[image: teen Pakistani girl wearing a
colorful headscarf and outfit, seen in profile,
seated at a balcony amidst a row of other people.]
Yes, that is Malala Yousafzai, 2014 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Reader, I nearly fainted.

And if that wasn't enough of an honor, Malala joined UN and UN Foundation officials Cristina Gallach, Maher Nasser, and Aaron Sherinian, in addressing we fortunate attendees of the Bay Area Digital Leaders reception. 

Mr. Nasser, who is Palestinian, spoke to us about how one of the reasons he supports and works for the UN is because he spent part of his childhood as a refugee, and was educated in UN Schools. And Malala spoke about the importance of not waiting for anyone but you to start making a change in the world, as well as on behalf of global human rights and personal responsibility. She also echoed some of the statements I recently made about iPads and like tech, in terms of understanding that such advances are not available to all students, and that life-changing tech needs to adapt and be beneficial under low tech circumstances. My video and transcription of Malala's talk is below.

I hope she will leave you as inspired as she and the entire UN70 day left me.

Cristina Gallach, Maher Nasser, Malala Yousafzai, and Aaron Sherinian
[image and video description: A teen Pakistani girl, wearing a colorful hijab,
talking into a microphone, to a crowd of people recording her with
smart phones. She is accompanied by a Spanish woman with
chin-length brown hair; a Palestinian man with close-shaven dark hair,
and a tall white American man with short black hair]



We ask for some words from you.


Thank you so much all of you, it’s a great opportunity to be here and meet the young generation with wonderful ideas about how to use technology in this mission of raising voices and speaking up for education, and equality, and human rights. And I think it is important that you are all here, and trying to help, and trying to discover how you can use technology in this process.

Because sometimes people ask me, “Why don’t you speak up for that country, why don’t you raise your voice for this issue.” And the message that I always give is:

You have to do it.

Do not wait for someone else to come and speak for you. It’s you who can change the world.

Nor was Martin Luther King Jr. waiting for someone else to speak against racism and discrimination in society, nor was Nelson Mandela waiting. They did it themselves.  And now we need to believe in ourselves; we need to believe in the power we have — the power of voice. And we need to stand up for our rights, and say that we can bring change in the world.

Unfortunately, there are many truths in the world such as people are being discriminated, women are not being given full rights in many countries, and they are not being given the opportunities to do what many can do. So it’s time we speak up for them, we hear their voices, and we help girls to go to school. And this has been the one thing we have been trying to do — it is my mission to see every child going to school. But for now I am focusing on secondary education, because I believe that secondary education is so important. Our world leaders, they only think about primary education.

[few seconds missing, your inept operator accidentally hit ‘stop’ on the camera.]

We have bigger dreams we can achieve — our achievements can be bigger. And that’s why we’ve set our development goals. We have done our best and are still continuing to try to make sure that families get quality education, and free and compulsory secondary education should be included in that, so that both girls and boys do not get deprived of this opportunity, and the chance to go to college, and to discover their full potential.

So we are hoping that you will support us in this campaign, and technology — again — can play a part in all of it. We all together, joining this movement, can bring change, and you can bring great inspiration, to the whole world. And you might believe it or not, but there are children in the poor countries who are waiting and hoping that someone will help them one day — and that is you, and that is one of us who are studying here, who is going to do something.

It’s the modern age. It’s the Twenty-First Century. But unfortunately there are still those living as though before the 19th century. So it’s important that technology is introduced there. And you might think, “well, how could I help a child there with an iPad or a phone or something like that — but we need to think: does the child know anything about an iPad? Has the child *seen* this technology? So before thinking of technology and how it can be important for education, we need to make sure that children in developing countries know about it, and how it can be powerful in helping them with education, and raising awareness, and spreading the message about equality and human rights.

So I’m hopeful that you will have wonderful ideas, and I support you all, and thank you once again.



Is there a message that a girl somewhere should hear from you on this day in San Francisco?


A girl in a developing country — or a developed country — should be really proud, and should be really hopeful that there are these people thinking about their future, and trying to help them. Because when it comes to women’s rights, it does not depend on which country you live — there is discrimination in almost every country.

So to that girl, to give them hope, she should know that there’s going to be a campaign for her equality, for her education, for her rights, and she should not lose hope that she’ll be discriminated against in society. Because we are here to study with her and allow her to raise her voice, and have this right to a quality education.

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