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Shawn Mendes performs onstage during the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on Sept. 29, 2018 in New York City.
Kholood Eid for Global Citizen
Citizenship

Championing Change Is in Shawn Mendes’ Blood

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Despite his youth, Shawn Mendes is already a champion for change. From improving education to providing relief in the wake of natural disasters, Mendes has shown that by taking action, young people today can be the generation to end extreme poverty and make the Global Goals a reality. You can take action on these issues and more here.

When it comes to making the world a better place, there’s nothing holdin’ Shawn Mendes back. Mendes may be just 20 years old, but he is mature beyond his years and has his eyes on the future — both his future and the future of this generation.

The young star, who has a social media following of more than 50 million users on Twitter and Instagram, recently thanked his prime minister, Justin Trudeau, via Twitter for prioritizing girls’ education.

"@JustinTrudeau thx for your leadership on education with #LeaveNoGirlBehind at the #UNGA2018 this week," Mendes wrote. But he didn’t stop there.

"I’d love to talk to you more about how we can ensure all children have access to quality education," Mendes said in his tweet. He added that he will be encouraging his fans to take similar action at the upcoming 2018 Global Citizen Festival on Saturday, Sept. 29 in New York City’s Central Park, where he will be performing.

Take Action: Call on US Government and Business Leaders to #FundEducation

Trudeau responded, saying that he's up for it.

It’s not the first time Mendes has championed education. 

At age 20, Mendes already has several awards under his belt and built a massive and loyal following. But the artist has been using his platform to bring attention to issues that matter both in his music and his personal life.

The “Treat You Better” singer launched a #BuildASchoolWithShawn campaign in 2015, together with nonprofit Pencils of Promise, and quickly exceeded his goal of raising $25,000. With the funds Mendes and his fans raised, Pencils of Promise was able to construct a formal school for children in Shia, Ghana.

When a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico last year, forcing Mendes to cancel a planned performance, the singer switched gears from prepping his set list to responding to the disaster. 

“After seeing the impact of the damage firsthand in Mexico, I wanted to find any way I could to help raise funds,” he said in a press statement.

The “In My Blood” singer donated $100,000 to relief efforts and teamed up with the Red Cross to raise additional funds to support survivors and aid efforts, Billboard reported.

Through his music, Mendes urges his fans not to be discouraged by the many challenges and tragedies they may witness in the world. Instead, he encourages them to keep taking action and approaching problems with a positive attitude.

Waking up to headlines / Filled with devastation again / My heart is broken / But I keep going,” he sings on a track called “Youth,” from his 2018 eponymous album. 

You can’t take my youth away / this soul of mine will never break / as long as I wake up today / you can’t take my youth away,” the song’s chorus, a reminder to be resilient, goes.

“It’s about how that youthful thing where you look at the world like it’s a great place will never be stripped because of the horrible things [they] decide to do; it’s an I will always have the positive outlook type of thing,” Mendes told W Magazine in an interview published in May. 

Read More: Janet Jackson Has Fought for Social Justice — On and Off Stage — for Decades

Mendes performed the moving song with singer Khalid earlier this year in tribute to victims of gun violence at the Billboard Music Awards.

His message of hope and change has clearly resonated with his fans, many of whom follow his generous spirit, using his birthday to fundraise for causes Mendes has shown support for, including reuniting immigrant families separated at the US-Mexico border, several times.

Mendes plans to keep fighting for progress and using music to do it — and he’s asking young people to do the same.

“When we talk about the word youth, we’re not describing age, but the feeling of happiness and freedom,” he recently told Variety. “Any generation nowadays has the ability to change the world for the better.”