Cool Girl: Help Lindsay Brown Change the World

Shelley Tibbetts has been helping out as a member of Team I Heart Daily, along with her work at She’s the First, a non-profit that fundraises creatively to sponsor girls’ education. We’re happy to present her sixth guest post, an interview with the seriously inspiring Lindsay Brown, 21: I Heart Daily: What impact do you hope to make as Seventeen's “Pretty Amazing” cover girl? Lindsay Brown: I hope when Seventeen readers see my story they realize something as simple as a cupcake can make a profound change in a girl’s life half way around the world. I started with one cupcake sale that raised enough money to send one girl to school. Today, we’ve raised over $22,000 from cupcake sales alone and have sent more than 50 girls to school in Africa, Asia and South America! [Join the She's the First cupcake bake this year!]

IHD: At what point did you realize such a small action had the ability to change the world? LB: Prior to my trip to Nepal, my teammates and I would jokingly say, “We are changing the world one cupcake at a time!” But once I got to Kopila Valley School and met the three little girls whose educations we had sponsored, I realized it wasn’t a joke, our simple cupcake sales really had changed these girls’ lives forever. After seeing the obstacles the girls had overcome at such a young age just to get the opportunity to even go to school, I wondered how many more girls were still out there waiting for their chance to go to school too? The strength and resilience the Kopila girls demonstrated inspired to retire for my senior soccer season at the University of Notre Dame so I could dedicate more time to expanding this project.

IHD: Tell us about the SEGway Project and how readers can get involved. LB: It stands for “Soccer Empowering Girls Worldwide and You.” I created this nonprofit after witnessing the transformative role soccer played in Nepal. Not only did the Kopila girls gain confidence and participate more in class, but the boys started to demonstrate more respect towards them as well. I saw that soccer had the ability to build leaders while breaking down social barriers and I wanted to give even more girls beyond Nepal the same opportunity to play. The SEGway Project connects US athletes with girls around the world, giving them the ability to share their love of soccer with one another. Our current goal is to support Kibera Girls Soccer Academy in Kenya. If readers would like to sponsor a soccer player, they can check out our website for more details or email me directly.

IHD: What advice do you have for others who are inspired to use one of their passions for social good? LB: Don’t let the enormity of any problem overwhelm you. Start small. I started with one academic sponsorship that has now turned into over fifty on three different continents. If I had become overwhelmed by the fact that millions of girls remain out of school, then I would have failed the one little Kopila girl I started with. If you’re passionate about an issue before you know it you’ll have created a huge impact.

IHD: Who inspires you? LB: There are two girls that inspire me the most. One is my grandmother Petra and the other is the first Kopila girl I sponsored named Hima. When I’m with Hima I see so much of my grandmother in her who grew up living on less than $2 a day in rural Puerto Rico. However, I don’t see a struggling, little girl, instead I see a strong, resilient young woman. Both my grandmother and Hima have experienced pain and hunger in ways I’ll never know but having them in my life gives me hope and confidence that getting an education will allow Hima and thousands of other girls to escape the cycle of poverty they were born into just like my grandmother did 75 years ago.