Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with David He, advisor at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Welcome, David. Let’s jump right in. Can you tell me what challenge OHCHR is addressing?
David: Thanks for having me, Spiffy. I'm dedicated to bridging the communication gap between the youth and global decision-makers. I began by elevating young voices to the highest levels of Canada's government, including the prime minister. Now, I serve OHCHR, ensuring youth perspectives from around the world are integral in shaping youth declarations.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
David: As an immigrant child, stories became my compass, shaping my worldviews and anchoring my identity. I've personally experienced the power of narratives to connect, inspire, and drive change. This personal journey pushes me. When I spoke at the United Nations in September 2023, it was a testament to the profound influence of these tales. What keeps me going? The unwavering belief that every young voice, when amplified, has the potential to reshape global perspectives and policies.
Spiffy: That’s very inspiring! What would you say is the impact of your work?
David: My efforts directly empower the youth worldwide, granting them a platform to be heard at the highest decision-making echelons. By presenting their insights to entities like OHCHR, I ensure their unique perspectives influence global policies. This not only validates their experiences but also actively integrates their visions into shaping a more inclusive and understanding world. Through this, I'm fostering a future where the youth's voice is central to global discourse.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?
David: Recently, I represented Canada at the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in India, collaborating with young leaders to forge a joint communique detailing policy recommendations for world leaders, including President Biden. Furthermore, speaking at the United Nations in September 2023, I shared my personal narrative and highlighted the pivotal role of youth in advancing human rights. Both moments emphasize our commitment to ushering in tangible change by positioning the youth at the forefront of international policymaking.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
David: The hardest step in any journey is the first. Throughout my path, I've faced rejection, stumbled upon unknown challenges, and grappled with failure. But those hurdles only solidified my resolve. If there's one piece of advice I'd share, it's this—always put your name forward and embrace the lessons in every setback. It's okay to seek guidance; never view it as a sign of weakness. Stay persistent in your goals and don't give up.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, David—it’s been an honor!
David He is a 20-year-old serving as an advisor at OHCHR and is a G20 representative. Founder of The Global Spotlight Foundation at 14, he's shared his story through three TEDx talks. In 2021, he was appointed by Canada's prime minister to deliver youth policy advice. Outside of his work, he is a student pilot and an avid DJ of music from all cultures. (First published on the Ladderworks website on October 23, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.