How triplet sisters created a platform to change the world

Luiza, Marina and Juliana Knijnik are giving voice to youth through an online magazine they hope will light the “spark that will set the world aflame”.

Image: Making a difference: Marina, Luiza and Juliana.

Where are the voices and opinions of the youth? This is where we come in ... as sisters we’ve always dreamed of making a difference in the world and together developed a vision to create a platform for young people to express themselves and make sure their voices are heard.

In 2019, we had the chance to make this dream a reality!

We won a grant from Georges River Council, 3Bridges and Hurstville Rotary to create and develop our platform, Woke! It is an online youth magazine that focuses on social justice issues such as mental health, the environment, racism, human rights and news and politics. We also share stories of young people from all around the world who are making a difference in their communities to inspire others to also take action.

Since launching we have heard from young people from all walks of life and cultures, about their hopes, fears, passions and world issues. We have been fortunate enough to interview some amazing young people from Australia and across the globe who are changing their communities, countries and even the world. For example, we have interviewed Macinley Butson, a young Australian woman from Wollongong who invented the SMART Armour, a shield that can be used by breast cancer patients to protect their non-treated breast whilst undergoing radiotherapy treatment. We have had more than 12,000 readers, 25 amazing writers, have published 65 articles, and have launched a competition to celebrate diversity and battle racism across NSW.

And while doing all this, we’ve been able to work with our best friends (each other), easily bouncing ideas off each other all the time!

However as fun as running our own magazine sounds, none of this has come without its challenges – and two in particular stand out.

It’s extremely difficult to balance Woke with study, sport, extracurriculars, work and a social life. You all know how much activities teenagers participate in! But regardless, we keep striving to improve the magazine, as we know it's so important for young people from across Australia to have a platform to be informed about issues going on in the world, express our own opinions and be inspired by other young people creating change.

We have also found that while our teachers and other adults have always supported us, some adults don’t take us seriously. There are so many times when we have been met with scorn, disbelief and unwillingness to help, making it difficult to expand Woke in certain directions. This is a difficulty so many young people face when trying to make a difference in society, be it from community work, to advocacy, to policy making and one all three of us have had to deal with as well.

However, while we have been met with disbelief by some, we have also learnt the power that organisations and young people have when they work together. The Department of Education and Multicultural NSW have helped us expand Woke and reach more people across NSW. Our school, Caringbah High and our local councils Sutherland Shire and Georges River have always supported us, as well as numerous community organisations including Shopfront, Headspace, Project Youth, Gymea Community Aid and 3Bridges.

In the future, we hope Woke can reach even more people and engage more voices across NSW and Australia. We want to hear from anyone who has a story to tell, is passionate about social justice, defending human rights, protecting our planet or advocating for mental health and gender equality! If you just want to be proactive and start changing the world, we’d like to invite you to join the Woke team today!

Anyone (and any article) can make a difference.

The sharing of stories and ideas shape our world. It can ignite entire movements and inspire revolutions. It can connect people across the world and empower people to create change.

A voice or an article calling for change is crucial to activism in today’s world. And that is what Woke aims to do. We want to be the spark that can set the world aflame. Because one person can make a difference, you can make a difference. One voice can start a ripple effect.

And as the adage goes, a pen will always be mightier than the sword.

Triplets Luiza, Marina and Juliana Knijnik were born in Brazil and have just started Year 12 at Caringbah High School in the Sutherland Shire.

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