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Calgary teen on her way to speak at a youth conference in Italy—and that’s just one of her many accomplishments

Marigold Mioc has already accomplished more at 13 years old than many people do in a lifetime—and she’s not done yet.

The Calgary teen volunteer and social activist has most recently been invited as a youth speaker at the ADi International Conference in Bologna, Italy on Oct. 22. The theme is A School With No Walls: An ecosystem approach to education.

Mioc will be discussing the “importance of human connection and mental well-being for youth in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.”

“I’m going to be talking about how it’s important for people to stay connected, especially with the fourth industrial revolution with AI [artificial intelligence] because robots are taking over the jobs,” Mioc explains.

“When that happens, we won’t really have as much social interaction as we would without them and the new technology so I’m going to talk about how we can implement those kinds of things in schools so that youth can stay connected.”

‘We’re all on this earth together’

It’s all part of her mission to make a difference in the world.

“I’m just passionate about keeping everybody together. And kindness, just remembering that we’re all on this earth together,” she says, adding there are still discrimination issues happening across the world.

“We kind of forget that we’re all on this earth together. And we all are people, and there’s nothing wrong with us if we are different.”

As Mioc’s mom, Lily Ahonen, explains, the teen’s passion for social activism, public speaking, and making a difference in the world started at a much younger age.

In fact, she’s already spoken publicly at another conference in Helsinki, Finland when she was just 10 years old.

“She’s always been into social issues. She used to be obsessed with politics but not as much anymore,” Ahonen says, adding her daughter used to visit the legislature and even worked with a senator to co-facilitate online youth sessions regarding Bill S-210, which would establish the office of the Commissioner for Children and Youth in Canada.

A young child with a vision

But Mioc’s love for social activism and making a difference dates back to when she was five or six years old.

“She was Little Miss Calgary in 2016 and I think everything started from there,” Ahonen says, adding that when she was five, Mioc started her own business selling headbands and used the proceeds to sponsor a family from Syria as well as for the education of a student in Kenya.

To say Mioc’s mom is proud is an understatement.

“Not just for her accomplishments, but she’s a really good, kind person. That is what I am most proud of,” Ahonen adds.

Mioc is a 2019 Diana Award holder and recipient of the 2021 Top 30 under 30 Award from the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation. She’s also a Youth Ambassador for United Way and has received numerous awards for community service and volunteering.

Every little bit counts

Mioc’s advice for other youth who want to make a difference?

“I know that there’s a concept that people feel like they have to make a really big effort to make a small change. And that’s not true at all, because the smallest thing can make a really big difference in anybody’s life,” Mioc says, adding it can be as simple as a compliment to a stranger.

“Maybe they were having a really bad day and you made them feel better. You don’t really need any big things, but just kind of thinking about what you choose to do.”

Recently, Mioc participated in a global three-month long program called How They See Us, funded by National Geographic.

She loves to travel and spend time with Tiffany, her poodle puppy. Her dream is to attend Harvard University.

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