One of the most rewarding aspects of our work at Liberation Arts Network is learning about the fantastic people making a difference in the world and seeing the varying ways in which they do this. When we heard about the prize-winning animation ‘We Are World Change’ this week, we discovered a very young change maker making very strong waves.
Last Sunday, the Joy House Film Festival, proud advocate of diversity and platform for emerging filmmakers, announced Josh Lorschy the winner of their Bendigo Bank Youth Award for his animation ‘We Are World Change’. The short film talks directly to those “privileged enough to have shoes on our feet, clothes on our back, food to eat, and a roof over our head” and asks what they will do for those not so lucky. It is powerful in its simplicity and matter-of-factness. And most compelling is the film’s arrowhead message: within each individual is the ability to create change.
‘We Are World Change’ is not the first animation with which 14-year-old Josh has delivered the public a sharp message. In September last year, Josh posted a short animation on You Tube detailing sad facts and statistics relating to a lack of rights for girls around the world. In the descriptor for ‘International Day of the Girl’, Josh wrote:
“I put this animation together to raise awareness for the issue, and provide viewers with ways to help the cause.”
“The best thing you can do is spread the word. Use your social media connections to share these links, so everyone knows about the problem…”
The following month, Josh posted a second animation also supporting girls’ rights to education and promoting the Girl Rising campaign, titled ‘Be The Voice’.
As a young Australian, Josh was in a unique position. He had been asked to be a Girl Rising Ambassador after attending the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York, 12 July 2013. There, Josh had listened to Malala Yousafzai give her first speech after being shot in the head for advocating girls’ rights to education less than a year earlier. The assembly gathered on that day in honour of her 16th birthday.
Of this experience, Josh wrote:
“[W]hen Malala stood up to make her speech, the entire room fell silent. The world’s attention was captured when she began to speak…”
Showing a keen emotional intelligence, Josh explained that:
“At the heart of her message to the world was this: ‘One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world’.”
With the help of his family, including twin brother Ben and young cousins, Georgie, Jessica and Sophie, Josh has been creating change in just this way. The Lorschy and Conn families have raised thousands of dollars for charity Room To Read, who implement programs, build libraries, and publish books in local languages to improve children’s literacy and gender equality in education in developing countries. It was Josh’s instrumentality in raising these funds and speaking at schools that earned him an invitation to the 2013 UN Assembly as Youth Ambassador.
Josh has a mature understanding of the complexities involved in providing aid to developing communities. In an interview with children’s author and Room To Read Writer Ambassador Tristan Bancks, Josh praised Room To Read’s ethical and pragmatic approach for creating change.
“Room to Read has a depth to their programs that goes beyond just donating books or building schools,” he said.
“They recognise that world change requires more than just dumping resources on the less fortunate. This extends into their teacher training programs, girls scholarships, social outreach workers and publishing books in local languages.”
Currently, Josh and his family are working towards Room to Read’s World Change Challenge which aims to raise $20 000 by 31 October. Students, schools and businesses nationwide are invited to create their own fundraising challenges or to donate. For the class or group that raises the most money, Random House Australia will fly Tristan Bancks to their school to give a free author talk or writing workshop. Second prize is $250 worth of books from Random House.
Josh’s message is simple: “YOU can make a difference. It doesn’t matter how big or small of a difference you make, because every step counts.”