• Voices Magazine

Reflection: Turning Privilege into Purpose

Jenk is a 16-year-old social entrepreneur, public speaker, social change activist, DJ, and presenter as well as the Founder & CMO of Thred Media, a 100% social enterprise focused on Publishing, Consulting and Production aimed at Generation Z.

Hi, my name is Jenk, I’m 16 years old and I live in London. I have chosen to write about the topic: ‘hardship that has shaped me’.

When I first thought about the topic, I thought about my own hardships and quickly realised that they were insignificant relative to the ones I have come to know first-hand on my journey over the last few years. Therefore, I have interpreted the title to include hardship that others have experienced that affected me in a very personal way.

Back in 2017, I was happily beginning my journey as a publisher via the website iCoolKid. We published articles aimed at 8-13 year olds that focused on cool things to do in England like graffiti exhibitions, DJ lessons, and opportunities for young entrepreneurs.

Along the way, young people started to reach out and share their real life situations with me. At first, it was a couple messages a week, and then grew over the next 2 years to multiple messages a day, so many that I could hardly keep up. They first came in the form of Instagram direct messages, then moved over to LinkedIn, and later, to email. Each one that I read gave me a better and more realistic understanding of what other Gen Zers were going through from all four corners of the planet. It also made me realise that I was blindly and naively unaware of the plight of the very Gen Z community I was supposed to be representing.

Whether it was gay teenagers in Russia who were feeling suicidal because they were unable to come out to their parents, or young girls using litter from bins as feminine hygiene products, or small rural schools trying to eliminate the use of plastic straws in their community, or unthinkable stories of racism in the Black and Asian communities, all the way to very young teens digging out trenches near their school in order to get clean water during the school day. The topics spanned the spectrum of social change issues, things I was so unaware of having grown up in a safe, clean, and progressive household.

After hearing hundreds, if not thousands of heartfelt stories, each one more poignant than the next; I started to think a lot more about what I wanted to use my website platform for and what the longer term goals should be. I wanted to use the iCoolKid website for more than just its original purpose. I wanted it to have more long lasting meaning and strive for greater levels of education, ultimately leading to actionable steps and change.

In 2019, I embarked on a new professional and very personal journey that involved 4 steps:

Firstly, I Renamed iCoolKid to Thred-which symbolises a Thred of continuity that connected all the stories I was hearing. The thread was the need for change. Social change to be specific.

Secondly I Refocused the content to be 100% social change, not just a thred, but in fact the whole thing.

Thirdly, I Repositioned the demographic, moving from 8-13 year olds, upward to 16-24+

Lastly, I Restructured the company to include consulting alongside the publishing vertical so we could talk to companies, give them insights and get their buy in on our movements.

The decision to do this came at a time when I felt like Gen Z was crying out for help and if I could raise awareness by shining a light on their stories, their projects and their missions; then that could become my story, my project and my mission. Soon, we were aligned and partnering on getting the word out and effecting change together.

The community has now grown to over 220,000 young people, the messages continue to get read and the stories continue to be told. The difference is that the content now spans the spectrum from online education & clicktivism through to offline activism. Online activism is raising awareness, signing petitions and fund raising through offline actionable initiatives such as field projects, protests, volunteering, leading social change organisations and pushing for change policy advocacy at government levels.

Thred has grown into a full fledged media company focused on social change projects and initiatives around the world but it all started with one or two messages from people looking for hope, guidance and a way to affect change one message at a time. Each one of them shaped me and eventually moved me to change the focus of my business and now the course of my life.

Today, I have set course on a very different journey, one that has allowed me to turn my privilege into purpose and I can honestly say, it has led to greater fulfilment. I owe a great deal of thanks to all the young people who reached out to me over the last few years, you have given me more than you’ll ever know. You have given me a sense of purpose and for that I am enternally grateful.

I ask all of you if you can…

Use your media to grow awareness.

Use your voice to bring attention.

Use your privilege to drive purpose.

And use your time on this planet to create positive social change at scale.

Every single message of hope can change the course of history, I know, because it changed mine.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All