Our recently launched Teen range is dedicated to a new generation of dreamers, leaders and change makers. Meet Bella Burgemeister and Jacob Cassey, who happen to tick all of the above boxes.
Photography by Sarah Tonkin.
Both hailing from Western Australia, Bella and Jacob are a part of Millennium Kids, a not-for-profit organisation that empowers young people to become problem solvers and innovators for the future, in particular in regards to the challenges facing the environment.
13-year-old Bella has published a book, Bella’s Challenge, which tackles climate change, specifically the 17 UN Global Goals for Sustainable development, in a way children her age can understand, and then act on. Bella and her publisher, Book Incubator, came to call this language 'kid-speak'.
Jacob, who is 14, helped design and build the Millennium Kids website and played an integral role in securing a grant that has been used to amplify and strengthen the Millennium Kids message. This has helped Millennium Kids reach a larger audience, and in turn provide more support and education on environmental issues to children.
Here we talk to Bella and Jacob about their projects, and what their hopes are for the future.
Jacob, how did you get involved with Millennium Kids and how did you approach the website design project?
"Millennium Kids is an organisation run by kids and focused on the environment. On the last Sunday of each month we meet up and participate in different activities like tree and sapling planting, surveying various environments, cleaning up certain areas, educating the public and much more. I attended the Millennium Kids UN Conference when I was in Year 6. I decided to join Millennium Kids as a member – I’ve been both the Co-President and the Treasurer since."
"My first project was development of the new Millennium Kids website. I worked on the application for a LotteryWest grant, which took about two years before we were approved. Once the grant was secured, I then worked with Media on Mars, who are based in Fremantle, to create the website. My role was to be the project manager. I told Media on Mars what we wanted on the website, how we wanted it laid out and then I would report back to the group on all the progress."
Bella could you please share how you went about writing and publishing Bella’s Challenge?
"I had the idea to write a book about the 17 UN Global Goals in 'kids-speak' so people my age and younger could really understand the goals and help out. I wanted to take my book into schools to help empower kids to start making positive changes for their community and the planet."
"Every Sunday for a year Mum would drive me over to The Book Incubator’s Kate Heaslip’s house and we would work on my book from 10am-5pm. To write about the Global Goals I first had to understand them properly. I had no idea what some of them meant so I spent a lot of time researching definitions then breaking them down into what I thought kids would understand. From that I created challenges for both kids and schools."
"I managed to win a micro grant for it and then with some of my own money, I had enough to get my book printed. All the money made from my book sales has gone back into sustainable projects like the Homeless lockers in Bunbury."
What would you like to be when you grow up?
Jacob: "I would like to be a Neurologist."
Bella: "When I grow up I want to be happy. I am not sure what career path I want to follow. At this stage I am interested in politics and law."
What are your dreams for the world?
Bella: "I would love to see world leaders start leading with compassion and kindness, that the nations lucky enough to hold wealth, use that wealth to help other countries that are not so lucky, rise up and be equally strong. Together as a global collective we can plan and combat climate change and work towards a sustainable planet for future generations."
Jacob: "That we can reverse the damage that has been caused to the world: that we become fully sustainable, carbon neutral and that humans don’t cause other life on Earth to go extinct."
Why is the new Teen range important to you?
Jacob: "Right now I’m in the middle, in between men’s clothes and kids’ clothes. More importantly, I can now choose to support an organisation that offers me clothes made from sustainable products. This is a big step in making the world fully sustainable and significantly reducing landfill. If only all companies would focus on the environment rather than purely short term gains."
Bella: "Fashion is contributing to a rapidly growing global waste problem. To have a clothing company focus on designing clothes with sustainable attributes shows leadership and an acknowledgement of an issue that we all must work together to solve. Teens are more aware of global issues and sustainability, so it is fantastic to have a teen range with a sustainable focus. You can still have style and quality; you just need to make the right choices and check to see where your clothing is coming from and what carbon footprint it has."