When it comes to overcoming obstacles, no one is better—literally—than the rock climber Ashima Shiraishi. At age 15, Shiraishi recently conquered a V15 boulder, the second-toughest classification in the world. It won’t be long before she conquers a V16—and just about anything else you put in front of her.
But other members of the new class of Next Generation Leaders have overcome less physical obstacles. The gymnast Simone Biles was all but abandoned by a drug-addicted mother as a young girl, only to find a new family with her grandparents—and a new vocation when she discovered gymnastics. Firas Alshater was imprisoned and tortured by the government of his native Syria for documenting its atrocities, yet he’s now helping other refugees feel more comfortable in Germany. Destiny Watford had to overcome what she calls the “dumping ground mentality” to rally her community in Baltimore to stop the construction of a polluting incinerator.
To TIME’s Next Generation Leaders, obstacles are just something in the way.
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