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Dr. Jennifer B. Bernstein

(516) 362-1929

Young Leaders Series:  Sanah Jivani

Welcome to my new series on high school students who are working on great projects and making a difference in the world.

I’m starting this series because I want to. . .

  • Spread the word about their accomplishments, experiences, and perspectives
  • Get your creative juices pumping
  • Challenge you to take action

Inspiration—not intimidation—is the goal!

When reading the profiles of the students featured in this series, I want you to. . .

  • Keep an open mind
  • Pay attention to how they discovered their idea, the steps they took to bring their project into being, the way they handled setbacks and challenges, and how you might apply what you’re learning to your own interests


I follow Three Dot Dash® on Twitter and was intrigued by their tweet about one of their Global Teen Leaders who founded Natural Day—“a day dedicated to embracing you for being you”—so I clicked on the link and got to know Sanah.

Have you heard of Three Dot Dash®?

It’s an initiative that focuses on supporting teen leaders who are “working on projects that promote a more peaceful society by addressing issues related to basic human needs: food, water, health, shelter, safety, education and the environment.”

As the guiding force behind Natural Day, Sanah challenges “girls all around the world to go without makeup and to love themselves for a day.”

Every year on February 13th, she wants girls to let go of “whatever insecurity they may be struggling with” and “think of the world as a positive environment that’s here to support you.”  The date is significant.  It symbolizes the importance of recognizing that “loving yourself is a necessary first step before loving others.”

Give yourself four minutes to listen to Sanah tell the story of how Natural Day came into being.


The very first Natural Day took place at Sanah’s high school.

As a freshman, she stood on the stage in front of the 4,000 students and poured out her story: “I go all natural everyday, no matter how scared I feel. If I can do it every day, I challenge you guys to let go once.”

She shared with me how “the next day, so many people went all natural. We had everything from people going without make-up to people sharing past stories of abuse and bullying. It was amazing to see everyone let go. That’s when I knew I had to spread the word and bring it to other schools.”

Natural Day is catching on across the country and around the world.  It’s been “implemented in schools from Texas to France” and is celebrated in 28 countries.

When she was ready to launch Natural Day on the international level, she “emailed several school counselors from different countries and teamed up with anti-bullying and self-esteem organizations.”

Social media has also been crucial. One of her videos (recorded by her friends) started getting thousands of views. The “word started spreading, and before I knew it, people from all around the world were participating in Natural Day!”


Sometimes we only hear about the major successes. Of course, it’s great to hear about triumphs, and we should celebrate them.

But the reality is that we all face challenges when working on projects, and far too often, students throw up their hands in despair when they hit a roadblock. They just don’t know how to handle it, so I asked Sanah to share with us some of her challenges and how she’s dealt with them.

Finances are definitely one of her biggest challenges.

Now that she’s “flying to conferences” and “speaking at schools around the nation,” it’s getting difficult for her family to afford Natural Day, especially since “every school that participates receives a Natural Pack, filled with wristbands, pencils, and other materials for their school.”

How has she handled this situation?

Sanah and her family have “learned to take it one day at a time,” and they’ve “started accepting help and donations.”

Motivation can also sometimes be a challenge.

As Sanah points out, “some days it’s hard to stay at home writing proposals instead of going to the football game with my friends. Some days I rather feel like a teenager instead of a non-profit manager.”

So how does she stay motivated?

She thinks back to the second Natural Day when “a girl around 14 years old went without her wig for the first time.” Here’s what she shared with me: “I saw myself in her and thought `maybe I saved her all of the pain I felt when I was struggling with wigs’. . .and that makes all of it worth it.”


Sanah’s next step is going to be a very exciting one.

Her friend Kendall Ciesemier—the founder of Kids Caring For Kids—nominated her for one of the Global Teen Leader positions offered through Three Dot Dash®, and she’s going to a special summit, which will help her develop even more knowledge and skills. Plus, she’s going to get assigned a mentor who will take her under his/her wing.

The young leaders selected by Three Dot Dash® receive mentoring that guides them through the process of sharing their stories by “effectively using various forms of media, current technology and distribution methods in order to accelerate their leadership potential, advance their projects, mobilize peers and amplify their work to broader audiences around the world to take action.”

I can’t wait to see what happens next for Sanah and Natural Day!


Here are some actions you might want to consider taking right now.

1.  Give yourself a few minutes to contemplate what you find inspiring about Sanah’s experience, perspective, and project. Reach out to her on Twitter or through her website to share your thoughts. It always feels so great to hear from people who are touched by your message. 🙂

2. Click here if you’re interested in bringing Natural Day to your school or community. Great projects and leadership experience don’t always involve creating your own project from scratch.

3.  Is there some way you’ve been hiding in your life or limiting yourself due to negative beliefs? Is there a seed of a project in that hiding or self-limitation—a project that could benefit you and others? What are three steps you can take right now to start mapping out an action plan?

4. Get even more inspired by clicking here to read about other Global Teen Leaders at Three Dot Dash®.

5.  Are you already working on a project and want to get nominated as a Global Teen Leader? Click here.