2020 - GEORGIA
Manav Shah is a junior at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia. In 2018, after visiting Clarkston, Georgia, a destination for international refugees, Manav learned of the often unnoticed struggles that refugee youth face. Many refugees have difficulty engaging in school and society, face discrimination, and often fall into depression because of bullying and stereotyping. Seeing this cycle of distress, Manav decided he wanted to help by providing a voice to their stories. He founded LiberatedVoices, a nonprofit that uses protest art as a vehicle of communication in helping refugee youth express their journeys as refugees, their experiences with racism, and what they wish to see change in the world. His group has engaged with more than 300 refugee youth in four locations nationwide. Through these art workshops, Manav and his group have helped refugees from locations as diverse as Burma and Iraq build confidence, engage in their communities and speak up against the prejudice they face. Manav is currently expanding his nonprofit to other refugee enclaves and minority youth centers, and eventually hopes to launch an online program for his workshops. Further, Manav is advocating with the Georgia House of Representatives for a Diversity Month within Georgia public schools, in hopes of letting all students appreciate the gifts of diversity and minority culture. He is also the president of his school’s diversity and Chinese clubs. Manav believes that youth have the power to create a change they want to see and hopes to inspire others to promote equity, diversity, and inclusivity in their communities.