Shannon McNamara

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As young as she is, Shannon McNamara is already making a mark in history through her work with SHARE (Shannon’s After School Reading Exchange) in Africa, an organization she founded that focuses on the education of children, especially girls, in various parts of Africa that have difficulty in getting quality education. From its founding, SHARE has raised over 85,000 dollars to support its cause of increasing the literacy for African girls.

Achievements

Why Shannon McNamara is Extraordinary

As young as she is, Shannon McNamara is already making a mark in history through her work with SHARE (Shannon’s After School Reading Exchange) in Africa, an organization she founded that focuses on the education of children, especially girls, in various parts of Africa that have difficulty in getting quality education. From its founding, SHARE has raised over 85,000 dollars to support its cause of increasing the literacy rate of African girls.

Promoting Literacy through SHARE

Through SHARE, Shannon has been able to work hands-on with the children, not just delivering books, school supplies and computers, but also teaching them personally, encouraging, and empowering them to become better and productive members of their communities.

Shannon understands that women play a vital role in the success of a particular community. As such, she never stops promoting gender equality in the schools in many parts of Africa, a place where women are often looked down upon and discriminated. This is also why she devotes a lot of her time, money, and effort for the education and empowerment of young African women. For Shannon, literate and confident women are more likely to become more responsible members of society, thereby working hand in hand with men to build a bright future for their nation.

Shannon says this in an interview:

“One-hundred percent, I believe that educating and empowering girls in developing countries is the most important thing that needs to be fixed. Research proves time and time again the value of educating young women. When girls are educated, amazing things happen: Girls marry later, have healthier families, fewer children, more educated children, etc. The magnitude of the ripple effect that one educated girl can create is enormous.”

Focusing on Education

You may ask, why education? Why not focus on women’s rights or their protection, as a lot of women are often persecuted for being vocal in their desire to be literate? Shannon answers these questions with this simple answer: education is the foundation of everything that these women will become in society. What is the point of developing programs in protecting women if they are not confident in who they are? Education, as Shannon stresses, gives not only information, but also self-confidence that will enable women to stand up for their rights and take control of their lives themselves.

This is what Shannon often talks about whenever she gets an opportunity to share her work. She often says:

“Empowering young women in Africa is very exciting. Education can bring out confidence and encourage these girls. It is incredible to watch something like that happen. Just being able to read a book makes these girls so much more willing to share their ideas and explore new possibilities. People need to recognize that books have the amazing power to change lives.”

As stated earlier, Shannon has witnessed the wonderful effects of men and women working together in building a successful community. As such, she spends a lot of her resources to ensure that the young girls in Africa would have the ability to keep up with the boys, thus enabling them to do far more than house chores and giving birth to children. Shannon stated this in an interview:

“I think success will happen when equal amounts of boys and girls are attending school in every country. The educated girls will become leaders and will have the knowledge and tools to help lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty.”

Teenagers can Help Teenagers and Others

This is why Shannon is so extraordinary. A lot of people her age would simply go on with life, unaware of the plights of people such as those in Africa face (and even if they did, they would not think of doing anything about it thinking they are too young to make any difference). But Shannon is not like any ordinary teenager. She was privileged to find out about the seriousness of the issues being faced by these young girls and Africa and decided firmly to help in any way she can, in spite of the seemingly overwhelming obstacles that lie ahead her path. She often says of her work with SHARE:

“SHARE gives me a chance for me to really make a difference and change the lives of girls who are less fortunate than me—yet they have double the amount potential and determination of anyone I’ve ever seen. Being able to help these girls and see their smiles as they realize that they have a chance to improve their lives is worth more than anything I’ve ever known.”

Because of her amazing qualities, Shannon was blessed with numerous awards and recognitions, the most notable being the United Nations Youth Achievement Award, which showcases how Shannon and her SHARE team has become a powerful influence and inspiration internationally. Aside from this, Shannon has also received a Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a Daily Point of Light Award, and much more. A lot of those who know Shannon are inspired by her extraordinary passion and dedication in seeing change happening in the lives of the children that are being helped by SHARE.

Shannon is a remarkable role model who can inspire and encourage a lot of us who want to contribute something productive and significant to our world. Her undying passion and courage in promoting education and empowering the young women of Africa is a powerful reminder of what it means to live a life of service and charity. Shannon does not expect material things in return for her work—seeing the wonderful smiles of the children whose lives she changed is enough to encourage her to keep doing what does.

“Find something you're passionate about and just go for it, even if it feels like you can't make that big of a difference ... There's a Mother Teresa quote that really inspires me: ‘If you can't feed a hundred hungry children, feed one.’ So, maybe you won't be able to solve the problem of poverty, world hunger or gender inequality that you want in a short amount of time, but if you start making a difference now, there's no telling what the future holds for you.”

Top Reasons why Shannon McNamara is Extraordinary

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