Deep down, many of today’s youth probably aspire to do just that– make a difference within the world around us. Gen Z is often pinned as the “lazy” generation, the phone addicts, the Netflix binge-watchers, the ones who have nothing better to do with their time. The current state of the world, however, is shedding more and more light each day on just how much activism Generation Z is willing to partake in. Witnessing the ones around us accomplishing seemingly unthinkable milestones can make this sort of activism seem difficult to achieve. It can make us feel inadequate, as if making a difference, whether it be anything from self-education on worldly matters to fundraising or hosting events for charity, is entirely out of reach.
Her Journey with Lymphoma
For young Mazzy Jester, the struggle with being “woke” is one she knew well.
At just 11 years old, Mazzy was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She describes it as “quite a journey,” and it is nothing short of a miracle. She received proper treatment in just six months’ time, and did not require any radiation. This harrowing experience opened sixth grade Mazzy’s eyes to the way she acted, which at the time was not in the most sensitive or self-aware manner. She states that her emerging victorious from her fight with cancer is what allowed her to “wake up and go, wow, that’s actually happening in the world.”
She quickly became involved with the Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit that raises money for more than 170 pediatric hospitals across North America. She also became affiliated with the National Cancer Pediatric Foundation almost three years ago, as a survivor herself. She is an ambassador for both of these organizations, and through CMN, Mazzy discovered Dance Marathon.
Miracle Network Dance Marathon is a nationwide movement, in which people come together to dance for a certain amount of time in order to raise money for an organization. The event occurs on college, university, and high school campuses across the nation, lasting from 8 to 40 hours. Students get to meet patient families treated at their local hospital, participate in games, and dance. Mazzy found a Dance Marathon being hosted at her local university, the University of Florida. She began fundraising for it at her school and raised an estimated $1.7 thousand, while the university as a whole raised $2.5 million for CMN.
Mazzy describes Dance Marathon as part of her, and she would not be the person she is today without it. She continues to encourage everyone she meets to get involved.
The Young Activist
Now 16, Mazzy considers herself an activist for just about everything– from Black Lives Matter to advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, but nothing can match the strides she has made as an ambassador.
“Everybody deserves a right. Everybody deserves equal pay– everybody deserves to be treated the same no matter their sexual orientation, the color of their skin, their sex; they just deserve to be treated equally.”Mazzy Jester
But Mazzy’s drive doesn’t end with CMN or NCPF. She wants to major in communications, get her degree in business, and plans on working for a non-profit some day.
Even while stuck in the recent quarantine due to the uprising of Covid-19, Mazzy has kept herself occupied. Mazzy primarily identifies as French, German, Migerian, and Ghanian, and began learning the respective languages to better connect with her ethnic identity despite being adopted. She has also continued to be an activist, especially for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I feel like we are doing all we can, with signing petitions, showing up at the protests and speaking out about the horrible situation we’re in right now.”Mazzy Jester
Mazzy continues to encourage people to sign petitions and donate to organizations that need it. She stands alongside the rest of the activists in her generation which, during a time where many may feel stuck at home, without a voice, it is more important than ever to make those small steps towards being an activist. It starts with one conversation, one book, one documentary. You don’t have to raise millions of dollars right off the bat to be an activist– Mazzy and her work are proof that starting small, or locally, can already make a huge difference. She believes wholeheartedly that Generation Z will be the one to change the world.