10 Inspiring Kids
These days children are often stereotyped as inactive and uninvolved in their communities, content with sitting in front of their computer or playing video games all day at home rather than volunteer their time and energy to those in need. But there are plenty of children who are spending their spare time making a difference in the lives of others in their communities and around the world. In celebration of these incredible young people, this month we are featuring 10 inspiring children who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of millions.
To vote for the person you feel is most inspiring, click the Facebook Share button above the slide containing your favorite
Kids Change the World (KCTW) founder and Executive Director; Christopher Yao began his philanthropic journey at the age of 10 as a result of what was first seen as a physical impediment, an under jaw bite. He recovered with the help of a doctor and felt motivated to help other children with oral problems more severe than his own. His efforts led to the development of Kids Change the World; one of the world’s largest sustainable youth led and impacted organizations. KCTW works to leverage the power of youth to unite, motivate, and inspire young people around the world to take action in their communities and change the lives of children around the world. Yao’s work has earned him a series of prestigious awards, including the President George W. Bush Daily Point of Light Award in 2009 and President Obama’s Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
Nearly 12 years ago Peter Larson then age 6 heard a presentation from Bob Fischer, the man who started the “Sleep Out” a fundraising effort to provide housing assistance to families in need at a Cub Scout meeting. Learning that just $500 could help one family motivated Larson to get involved. Since then, Larson has spent over 300 nights snuggled in a sleeping bag his grandmother made and collecting pledges for his efforts. Sleeping outside in a card board box during November and December Larson has collected over $500,000 which is enough to provide housing assistance to almost 1,000 families. The money Larson raises goes to Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, an organization that uses the money for housing needs in the community. In 2008, Larson received a Good Samaritan Award, the top youth award from the Commission on United Methodist Men.
Ashima Shiraishi, 14
In 2009, when he was only nine-years-old, Teagan Stedman founded Shred Kids’ Cancer after finding out that his friend Alex was diagnosed with cancer. Shred Kids’ Cancer is a 501c3 organization dedicated to serving the community by offering a solution for kids to help fight kids’ cancer and show their peers who are suffering that they are here to help. Stedman who is the Chairman of the Board not only organizes Shred events, but is actively involved in motivating other kids to get involved. He encourages them to serve on the board and committees, help out with flyers, and solicit sponsors and auction items. He educates kids on how to hold bone marrow drives and gives presentations to businesses to get sponsorships for Shred events. Stedman’s efforts continue to inspire kids to unite for the cause and do what they can to help others in need.
In 9th grade, Yash Gupta broke his glasses and had to attend school without them for an entire week. Sitting in the back of the room he could not see the board, and unable to absorb the information being taught those few days. His dilemma made him wonder if other students had similar problems, especially those with no health insurance or access to eye exams. Wanting to give every student the ability to see and learn he decide to take action. In January 2011, Gupta started Sight Learning, a nonprofit organization which collects and donates used eyeglasses for students who need them in third world countries, and organizes eye-exam clinics in these nations. To date, Sight Learning under Gupta’s leadership has impacted thousands of young students around the world, donating over $100,000 worth of eyeglasses and organizing several eye-clinics in various nations.
At the young age of 10, Alanna Wall started the nonprofit, PolishedGirlz.org. Through the organization she is able to combine her love of drawing and nail design with her compassion for young ladies with special needs that are hospitalized or just not feeling quite “polished”. Wall’s organization gives peer to peer support by having youth volunteers polish the nails of these very special young ladies. She has a dual mission, to help develop increased self-esteem and improve quality of life by promoting hygiene and self-perception in girls. The organization also seeks to empower its volunteers by offering them opportunities to improve their quality of life and build leadership skills through community service. A true inspiration to others, Wall’s organization has over 75 active youth volunteers and has served hundreds of children through organizations including The Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association, Children’s Medical Center and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
NY high school sophomore Macallan Durkin was just 11years-old when her family returned from three years in Botswana. While living there she had the opportunity to work alongside adults raising orphaned animals in several animal sanctuaries. One day while leaving the sanctuary, she noticed some children eating scraps of food from garbage cans. She asked her mother what they were doing and was told they were hungry. Durkin wondered why there were places for homeless, orphaned animals, but not for children. Once home she decided to do something to help those children. Her efforts turned into the sale of fair-trade products through her nonprofit site GoodyGoodies.org. Providing a meaningful vehicle for youth advocacy to provide assistance to children through the sale of fair trade products, presentations, and workshops Durkin’s organization raises awareness and funds education, food, and hope to needy children.
Jaylen Arnold is a young boy who has Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes motor and vocal tics. Because of his illness he endured countless badgering and bullying at school which would have led many students to withdraw or allow those negative comments to get him down. Instead, Arnold decided to start a campaign called Jaylen’s Challenge to stop school bullying. Through the Jaylen’s Challenge website he sells anti-bullying wristbands and accepts donations for his cause. The proceeds from the wristbands go toward educational materials and programs for schools to raise awareness about bullying. Despite his illness, Arnold continues to writes blogs on a regular basis about his life and progress in changing the mindset of others through Jaylen’s Challenge. His efforts have inspired both students and school staff around the country to take a stand against school bullying.
Motivated to make a difference in his community, Kyle Freas started Youth Together when he was 16 years old. The nonprofit organization works with elementary and middle school student councils, Students Thinking of People / Peer Assistance and Leadership programs to help homeless, abused, and critically ill children as well as homeless animals and the Dallas Zoo. The charity also works with local nonprofit organizations to develop kid friendly service opportunities in Texas and New Mexico. His core belief is that while selfless service is wonderful in adults, young children can and should be conditioned to help in their community. To date, Youth Together has raised over $200,000 dollars to help needy children. Freas has received many honors and awards for his efforts, including the Rising Star Award from Governor Rick Perry and over 12 scholarships to help with his college education.
Talia Leman was 10 years old when she and friend Anne Royse Ginther reached out to rally youth to aid survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Raising over $10 million, their effort ended up ranking the giving power of U.S. school children with the top five U.S. corporate donors. Wanting to harness that power for other issues, they founded RandomKid, a nonprofit that empowers random kids to solve real problems by uniting with like-minded youth. Under Leman’s leadership RandomKid has mobilized the efforts of 12 million youth from 20 countries providing aid on four continents funding water pumps, building schools, providing medical care, and fostering peace. A former national ambassador for UNICEF, Leman received the National Jefferson Award, World of Children’s Founder’s Youth Award ( the “Nobel Prize” for efforts that serve the world’s children), and the International Youth Talent Award from the European Union and the Spanish government of Extremadura.
Hands for Help founder Bilaal Rajan began fundraising when he was four years-old, selling clementines door-to-door in his neighborhood to raise funds for the victims of the earthquakes in the Gujarat province of India in 2001. He later sold handmade plastic plates to raise $1,200 for HIV/Aids orphans, sold cookies raising over $6,000 for the people of Hurricane-devastated Haiti, raised $50,000 for the victims of the tsunami in south-east Asia, and more than $50,000 for the World Partnership Walk. In 2004, Rajan launched the Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge for UNICEF, raising the total funds for tsunami relief to around $1.8 million. To date, he has raised over $5 million for various causes. Rajan’s motto is “Together we can make a difference” and his confidence and passion for what he does and have inspired kids across the globe to join him and make a difference.