On top of being a visually intriguing app, Instagram has become a place we can turn to for everything: hilarious celebrity comments, fashion advice, and keeping up with our friends and family. But it’s also a place where we can find communities – no matter how niche. Part of the reason the app is so versatile is because young people have created their own spaces within the larger social network.
Because it can be difficult to find your place on the platform, we’ve put together a list of young Latinos who use Instagram to empower others, build communities, and to promote creativity. Meet them below.
Alex Reyes, a 17-year-old based out of Texas, is a rising star in the world of photography. His Instagram, which boasts more than 39,000 followers, showcases his work. He also shares a bit of his hopes for his future. When he’s not looking toward his own dreams, he’s helping others reach theirs. Reyes founded Teens Create, a “safe space for building each other up and bringing light to everyday issues.” The page highlights the creative endeavors of other talented teenagers.
Jillian Mercado is a trailblazer. The model, who has muscular dystrophy, is not only bringing more representation to the fashion world, she’s also fighting for increased accessibility for disabled folks. Her Instagram is a diary of her accomplishments and everyday life. With each post, she shows how she is changing the face of the fashion industry.
Miguel Chavez is an Oklahoma City-based entrepreneur. On his Instagram account, he posts about the power of the Latino vote and undocumented community. He also has used the platform to talk about the issues that low-income students face in college. It’s why he started the Miracle Mindset. “Socioeconomic status is a significant predictor of success: students who come from affluent backgrounds are significantly more likely to graduate, even when matched with other characteristics like household income, standardized test scores, and academic performance,” the group’s Facebook page reads. “Our goal is to provide these students with the proper guidance, leadership skills, and infrastructure they need in order to unlock their full potential.”
Kelvin Peña’s non-profit work began by chance. After he fed a deer that visited his home, the deer came back with more animals. Once he started recording videos of himself with the deer, he went viral and realized he could do so much good. Now he feeds his deer friends (as well as other animals), he also started the Everybody Eats Foundation, so that he could help a larger number of people.
“Gaining all of these eyes on me made me realize I can make an even bigger impact on this world, and that nothing makes me happier than helping people,” the Everybody Eats Foundation website reads. “…Coming from a single-parent home, after school snacks were considered a luxury and holiday dinners were always something special to us as a family. Food brings people together, and it also brings happiness to the table. The Everybody Eats Foundation focuses on helping single-parent families during the holidays and after-school kids year-round.”
Vivian Nunez is a writer and mental health advocate. She created Too Damn Young to help young adults and teens dealing with the loss of a loved one. “At the basis, we want to be a resource,” the Too Damn Young site reads. “Our expert articles, personal accounts, fiction, poems, and other creative outlets are all intended to be relatable and informative content. Above all, my person goal as the Founder of Too Damn Young is to create a community.”