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Prince Harry Believes Teen Climate Change Activist Greta Thunberg’s Asperger’s Syndrome Makes Her Thrive

Julie Sprankles

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In what is suspect to be his last public appearance before his family’s holiday break, Prince Harry praised climate change activist Greta Thunberg at the first annual 2019 OnSide Awards on Sunday. Speaking to a room full of 2500 young people, the Duke of Sussex lauded the teen trailblazer for her courage and for understanding what makes her mental health “thrive rather than just survive” — and using that to affect change for the greater good.

The OnSide Awards, which are in their inaugural year, were created to champion the achievements of children who’ve made a difference in their communities. So, Harry was perfectly on-point in choosing his speech at the ceremony to give Thunberg a shout-out. “When Greta started her climate change protest, she was just 15 years old — one voice, with just one placard, sitting on her own outside the Swedish parliament,” Prince Harry told the crowd. “Many people… actually, I should say, many adults… dismissed her. Yet today, millions upon millions of young people have joined her fight.”

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Throughout his speech, Harry pointed to Thunberg — who openly discusses her Aspberger syndrome diagnosis — as an excellent example for young people, not just for holding room for her own mental health but also for being bold in her desire to make a difference. “She may have been just one person at the beginning, but she had a belief, a mission, and a desire to do something not just for herself but for everyone,” Harry said. “And now, the whole world is paying attention.”

As Harry noted, Thunberg is making a difference every day through her activism. But she had to believe in herself before anyone else could believe in her. “By knowing what makes us thrive rather just survive, we’ll be unlocking such incredible potential for ourselves and more young people up and down the country,” he said, urging the young people in the room to unlock their own “true potential and realize the difference you can make.”

With that, Harry reminded the crowd that not only is there room for more Gretas in the world, but there is also a pressing need: “Whatever your dream — every country, every community, every school, every friendship group, every family needs their own Greta —someone who can lead the way, someone who is prepared to stand up for what they believe in, and show how much they care for the people in their lives and the community around them.”

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