Happy 15th B-day: TEDxTeen & CEO of Lil’ MDGs Dylan Mahalingam!

Aug 2, 2010 As I opened my Facebook to check messages from GWLN’s Global Leaders for Justice organizers who I’ll be working with tomorrow and Thursday at SCU mentoring inspiring projects from all over the world, I scanned the ‘birthdays’ sidebar.

Keeping with the global theme, I was alerted to change agent Dylan Mahalingam’s 15th birthday today…I KNEW I had to give a huge shout out to the universe to pay heed to this extraordinary New Hampshire native, CEO of Lil’ MDG’s and TEDxTeen.

Dylan, your voice has dropped an octave or two and you no longer look like the doe-eyed nine year old founder of ‘Lil’ MDGs energizing humanity to meet the Millenium Development Goals of 2015 for proof positive that Kids Are Heroes…

As a handsome young gent of 15, he’s already accomplished more in the name of justice, diversity, human rights, gender equality, championing access to education and medical care ad a role model for the ‘very best in youth’ and it  makes my heart sing to know that he’s just gettin’ this party started. Yep, Dylan, you represent a generation of ‘Lil’ MDGs eager to rock the planet to uplift rather than tear down, and use media messaging in the ultimate positive way.

In the TEDxTeen video (below) Dylan talks about training his new chocolate lab pup, Nestle and how he’s uncomfortable with the use of names like ‘master and servant’ in establishing the ‘lead dog in the pack,’ and how we instead need to leverage the notion of mutual service, respect, and amplification of energy to reach a common goal (just as parents serve children and vice versa)

He packs a ton of metaphors like this into his Ripple Effect chat implying that international development and youth empowerment as a whole is all about finding a common center, leveraging our diversity and using the position of service to outreach towards peace and sustainable goals…Mind you…every time I listen to inspiring minds like these, I start thinking:

Why doesn’t media do ‘reality’ shows or scripted ensemble casts that highlight cool kids like this?”


It would make a heckuva sitcom plopping a team of do-gooders in high stakes scenarios…

Or revolving a cast of characters set in a base camp, or Outward Bound theme or a forest ranger setting or a peace corps tribe, or any other service learning capacity (think Mash meets MTV Think?)

In essence, why not embed philanthropy & outreach into a storyline that’s cool?

Sure beats all the stale bed-hopping/prego dustups, ‘gossip girls’ or ‘pretty little liars’ style vixens plagued by deception, mistrust and vapid valued melodrama as predictable as sundown.

Why CAN’T media applaud, unite, connect, and do some fun ‘transmedia’ storytelling with  teens accomplishing phenomenally powerful, fun, joyful scenarios in a variety of arenas?

Or what about kids doing videos and live on cam change agents in their own communities. Or abroad? Or ‘user generated’ style? Or spin-off scripts to create fresh teen hits instead of the same plodding drek?

Sheesh, it’s tailor made for drama, adventure, comedy, the works, with plot points aplenty:

Think about it…Making new friends each week, passionate pursuits, ‘aha’ moments of experiential triumph and defeat, noble change-making mixed with quirky, random mishaps, fascinating characters out in the field, even romance…

Think of the ratings! Think of the buy-in!

Media that matters, that you’d WANT your kids to watch? Heh.

Okay, well, anyway, that’s MY birthday wish for Dylan Mahalingam…

…Mass media exposure to make his Lil’ MDG goals come to full fruition, backed by other amazing talented teens just like him…

…Whether it’s the new Teens in Tech crew or Teens Turning Green or YouthNoise or any number of stellar youth organizations well-suited to amplify and align with…

Dylan, as you light your candles today in real life and continue to set the world on fire being the star of YOUR own show, I can only say ‘bravo, encore’ and can’t wait to see what’s next as you head toward your ‘sweet 16.’ Happy Birthday dear one, on behalf of all of us who believe in your vision and have every confidence youth are ready to rock this ol’ blue marble in a positive direction. Namaste!

Happy Birthday, Dylan! Aug. 2, 2010

Related Resources

Lil’ MDGs.org

Lil’ MDGs (Causes on Facebook)

Lil’ MDGs Facebook Page (“Like” it, for Dylan’s bday, ‘k?)

The Eight Goals, from Lil’ MDG’s site: an initiative of Jayme’s Fund for Social Justice

In 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Summit, 189 Heads of State and governments agreed to work with each other to make this world a better world for all by 2015.

Did you know that over a billion people in the world live on less than $1 a day? Can you imagine surviving with less than $1 a day? If you think about it, you would realize how difficult it is to survive with very little money. That is why these important people pledged to make life better for all, especially for the poorest of poor people who are struggling to live with barely any money.

  1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
  2. Achieve Universal Primary Education
  3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  4. Reduce Child Mortality
  5. Improve Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases
  7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
  8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development

More Links to Dylan’s Work

Everyday Young Heroes: Dylan Mahalingam

Kids Are Heroes Profile: (Gabe’s site has FABULOUS youth heroes, one & all!)

Upcoming Event Oct 16, 2010 When Dylan is Awarded “Very Best Youth 2009”

Edutopia: Profile Student Work Dylan Mahalingam, Lil’ MDGs

Dylan When He Was 12/Video, Child-Founded Charity Lil’ MDGs



  1. Hi Amy,

    Thanks for such a wonderful article about Dylan and his organization!


  2. Steve Richards says

    Great post, I was particularly struck with a “gosh, she’s so right!” feeling with respect to your ideas about how the media programmers, if they could catch a vision, could be delivering a lot more healthy stuff to our kids… programs they would probably like, and even watch regularly. I have three kids of my own, one still a teen, the other two having moved on a bit, but they all like heroes from their own demographic who aren’t simply pretty bimbos with boy trouble, or boys trying to find their inner macho. So, cheers to examples like Dylan, and a happy birthday to him from my household as well. Thanks for putting a spotlight on him.

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