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Welcome to the Young Initiators blog. We hope you have a nice stay.

Young people leading the way, Autumn round-up.

Young people leading the way, Autumn round-up.

Photo by Rahmalia Aufu Yazid, @aufatokyo

Photo by Rahmalia Aufu Yazid, @aufatokyo

What defines a leader? Five young people answer that question through creativity and expression.
By Madz Rehorek

The word ‘leader’ seems pretty loaded. Visuals that spring to mind tend to involve podiums, suits, booming voices and rules which makes me want to phase out and reach into my pockets to my find my headphones. But what actually defines a leader? We’ve been pulling apart what leadership can mean at CMY and young initiator participants have been opening up the discussion even more.

This is where I’m at with it: leaders can sometimes be people who connect through vulnerability and creativity, and through that reveal strength. Here are five young people who I’ve been following this month who oooooze creativity and whose values I can get behind. Compassion, understanding, reaching out and backing each other up are threads that I see through what they make and articulate.

1. Rahmalia Aufu Yazid

Let’s kick this off with one my new favourite photographers, Rahmalia Aufu Yazid. Her work is so soft, with echoes of matte textures and airy colours that get me every time. When she spoke to BuzzFeed, she called Tokyo a “cold and restless city," where people dress in neutral colours of black, white, beige, and khaki and where bright colours and striking patterns are rare. She uses this to her advantage and plays on the mood of her city whilst introducing tones and colours through fabrics and nature, combining Muslim and Japanese fashions in self portraits and moments from her daily life.

“I want to use what I do to improve people’s understanding of Muslims, change biased views about the religion, and help people realize the value of living in a diverse society."

Photographs by Rahmalia Aufu Yazid, @aufatokyo

Photographs by Rahmalia Aufu Yazid, @aufatokyo

2. Rebekah Hogan

Getting local, I recently met Rebekah in Fawkner (a pocket of Melbourne’s North) and she struck me as someone who really lives by the values she talks about. She’s a young leader from Oxygen youth committee, where she takes an energetic approach to representing young women in Moreland City Council. We recently discussed the values that she finds inspiring in others and her response was fast and strong,

“People who are hands on, confident. I value honesty and openness. Also humour is essential, as well as emotion. We don’t have to hide it if we cry, or hide our empathy.”

Read her article reflecting on cultural identity in Australia, here.

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Photographs by Madz Rehorek, 2019

Photographs by Madz Rehorek, 2019

3. Tyler Ford

Tyler is an award-winning non-binary advocate, writer, and speaker, whose ‘creative and critical writing on queer and trans identity inspires, comforts, and challenges a diverse spectrum of audiences.’ They have an advice column for LGBTQI+ youth on MTV, and there is an absolute gold mine of articles to raid through here.

A quote from one of their articles that pulled me in,

“Tonight, I went to a small nail-painting party with two trans friends. We modelled different colours, complimenting each other’s choices and coordinating our nails with our outfits. Sitting cross-legged on the floor in a white T-shirt and black shorts, I pasted a black nail transfer on my middle finger that reads, “Go away.” I didn’t feel secure enough to throw this finger in the face of the man who laughed and took a photo of me on my train ride back, but upon arriving home safely, I take my own photos.

.. Looking at myself, I see love, resilience, strength and beauty. I smile, finally recognising my essence in my
own reflection.”

TIME Magazine, Cover Story, March 16, 2017.  Beyond 'He' or 'She': The Changing Meaning of Gender and Sexuality  Photo by Jody Rogac

TIME Magazine, Cover Story, March 16, 2017. Beyond 'He' or 'She': The Changing Meaning of Gender and Sexuality Photo by Jody Rogac

Tyler as NYC Pride 2018 Grand Marshal. Photo by  D. Strutt , June 2018

Tyler as NYC Pride 2018 Grand Marshal. Photo by D. Strutt, June 2018

4. Asalah Youseef

I found Asalah via @the.sisters.project and was drawn in straight away. She’s a 15 year old public speaker and advocate for the ‘Real Acts of Caring’ organisation in Canada, which she has represented through podcasts, local and national school boards, city councils and even sports stadiums.

Her message? How important spreading acts of love and kindness are in everyday life and how it should be a focus of teaching in schools.

Follow her and a series of beautiful photographs, here: @asalahyoussef

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“Your voice can be the beginning of someone else sharing theirs” - TEDx Youth, May 2019

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“My barn is my happy place, it’s where everything else that happened in the day doesn’t matter anymore, because the only thing I need to focus on is myself and my horse. It’s is such a therapeutic place. Sometimes it helps me to control my emotions and sometimes it helps me to release them, because you get to be one with nature and your horse.” - Asalah Youseef

Photos by @aliaphotography.

Photos by @aliaphotography.

5. Anthony Young (AYXNMD)

Seeing as though this is an Autumn round-up and my mind steers back to orangey leaves against grey Melbourne skies whilst en route to a fire place, I have to include the perfect backing track to those strolls; Anthony Young. An incredibly talented local musician whose dreamy melodic voice sounds only gets better once he breaks into intricate and percussive rap. Get lost in his relaxed reggae vibed track ‘Repo’:

… and for a stripped back acoustic track, check out ‘XO’:


Who are some young leaders around you?

We’d love to hear about them! Comment below, or DM our insta.

Interested in talking more about what a young leader is and joining others in helping define it?
We have workshop intensives coming up! Contact us on younginitiators@cmy.net.au.

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Hoodie portrait by Rahmalia Aufu Yazid.

Youth-led Project Q&A

Youth-led Project Q&A

Reflections from Young Initiator, Danayet.

Reflections from Young Initiator, Danayet.