In a society where athletes are considered popular figures and role models for success, athletes hold a significant platform. Athletes are not just a model for excellence in their respective sports, but they serve as a model for change, for speaking out, and for being the voice for the voiceless. Various athletes have used their platform to voice out their opinions on social issues, spreading the advocacy they preach; few examples of these include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Colin Kaepernick. Stephen Jackson, among others. The same can be said for Atlanta and UFA’s very own Hannah Testa. While she may not be in the same stature of fame as the aforementioned list of people, the 17-year old’s passion and drive to make a change in the world is as bright and strong as ever.
As mentioned, Hannah used to play for the United Football Academy. Her time in the team was very successful. They won the title and she learned the importance of cohesion as a unit and the importance of hard work. In her own words, she admits that they were not the best team or the most talented, but she believed that their team worked the hardest. Shortly after her time in UFA, she moved on to pursue her life in volunteerism and creating advocacy. The lessons she learned in the sport shaped her to become the person driven with passion and to work hard on making a change.
From an early age, Hannah has always advocated for animal life and the environment. At the age of 4, she expressed her love for animal life and educated herself on the issues concerning their health, primarily plastic pollution. This began her journey to creating advocacy in order to educate various industries and spread awareness on the issues that harm our animals. At age 10, she became an environmentalist and an animal rights activist. She recognized that plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our environment, and since then, she started to spread information about it to the public. With this, she launched Hannah4Change, an initiative she launched to spread her advocacy through the web. Hannah has worked with multiple government agencies in the state of Georgia, and she has proposed bills and loans to defend the rights of rhinos whose horns are used for the ivory trade. After receiving multiple awards for her efforts, Hannah released her book “Taking on the Plastic Crisis”, a book dedicated to going more in-depth with her journey.
In her book, she dives deeper into the personal experiences that drove her to make a change. The book talks about the experiences she went through as early as the age of 2 all the way to when she helped in creating Plastic Pollution Awareness Day in the state of Georgia at the age of 14. The book not only talks about her challenge and her journey in life but also how to be aware, how to make a change in your own everyday lives to support her cause infighting and eradicating plastic pollution. One of the stories of her book was when she was 10, she mentions that her mother showed her a video of a rhino being poached and killed, and the anger she felt watching the video. Her mother told her something across the lines of, “It’s sad. But what can we do?”, and ever since then it has been Hannah’s challenge to be more, to do more. This story truly encapsulates the excellence and the brilliance of this young girl. While we can go on and rave on her excellence, the world should see for themselves. Be sure to check out Hannah4Change, and to grab a copy of her book. It is a great read and it is a terrific narrative about courage, integrity, and initiative.
Hannah Testa’s story is a symbol that age is truly just a number and that anybody is capable of making a difference for as long as they put their heart and soul into it. Although she no longer has the time to pursue playing soccer, the sport that so many love; the passion, the drive, the hard work, the determination to be excellent is what the beautiful game is all about. Hannah at 17 is a role model and a symbol for what the youth is capable of, and for any young boys and girls out there that believe that they can’t succeed or can’t make a difference, let Hannah’s story be the symbol that anything is possible for as long as hard work and heart are there. Hannah, continue to strive, continue to be great, continue to change the world, we are all in awe and rooting for what the future holds!