MEET THE WINNERSA yearbook of the winners of the Barron Prize
Placed Braille signs in grocery stores
Age at Winning Prize10
Joshua spent hours at the kitchen table with his Brailler, punching in codes for the various types of produce, to create many of the labels for that first store. He then began approaching other stores and was undaunted when several simply declined his idea and others failed to follow through. To date, five Whole Foods Markets in California and one in the Boston area have adopted his program, which includes Braille aisle signs, individual product labels, and an audible scanner that tells shoppers, for instance, what type of apple they’re holding. Joshua has big plans to continue, quipping, “Braille the entire universe, and Target, too!” His most recent store, a Whole Foods Market near Palo Alto, attracted the attention of the California School for the Blind. Joshua was excited to help organize a store field trip and scavenger hunt for students at the school, who were elated with the Braille system and audible scanner. “You might be young, but you can still make a difference,” says Joshua.
CaseyLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founder, L.A.S.T. (Love a Sea Turtle)
Age at Winning Prize16
Home StateNorth Carolina
Casey explains that she and her organization have grown in a way similar to a sea turtle — slow and steady. Five years ago, while volunteering at a local Boys & Girls Club, she learned that many of the kids there had never been to the beach, much less snorkeled or kayaked. Determined to change this, she founded the Upstream Downstream Connection summer camp to give at-risk students the opportunity to experience nature and have fun with STEM subjects. Her camp traces the path of freshwater sources from her community to the coast through hands-on investigative science. With the help of her Turtle Team of high school volunteers, Casey offers free camps for Boys & Girls Club members, with over 525 youth participating this past summer. As part of her camp program she has created the Outdoor Experience Center, a collection of outdoor gear used in year-round programming that includes dozens of kayaks, life jackets, and mountain bikes, as well as snorkeling and GPS equipment. Casey covers camp costs through fundraising, grant writing, and her Love A Sea Turtle 5K Trail Run and Nature Walk, an annual race that in five years has grown from 25 runners to more than 200. “Over the years, I’ve come to realize that in order to make a difference you must be the difference,” says Casey.
JonathanLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Advocates for environmental and climate justice
Age at Winning Prize18
Home StateNew York
Jonathan also mobilized youth to help with a 2010 voter referendum amending the City Charter to reduce the number of environmental burdens in New York City’s low-income communities. He has testified in front of the EPA, warning that climate-change related storm surges along Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront could unleash toxic waste into the water and air. Eighteen months later, this is exactly what happened when Hurricane Sandy hit. Jonathan now facilitates meetings for the Sunset Park Climate Justice and Community Resiliency Center, a group launched shortly after Hurricane Sandy to educate residents about affordable climate adaptation projects they can implement such as painting roofs white and planting more trees. “It’s so important that young people have a voice in shaping their communities,” says Jonathan. “And we must use our voice to fight for the fair distribution of environmental burdens and amenities.”
Founder, Warming Families Makes Cents
Age at Winning Prize12
Three years ago, as she was counting the jar’s pennies, Anna wondered how she might raise more money. She wrote her fourth grade teacher, asking if her whole class could save and donate their pennies. Despite her fear of speaking to a group, Anna presented the idea to her classmates, who jumped at the chance to help, bringing in baggies of pennies and doing chores at home to earn more money. Anna reached out to businesses, as well, and soon there were corporate donations, matching funds, and offers to clean families’ furnaces. After adding a Facebook page and website to the mix, pennies began showing up in her school locker and mailbox. With donation jars all over town and area schools now running their own fundraisers, Anna has built a system to ensure her project will continue and grow. “I’ve learned that even if you’re young, you can have a really great idea that makes a huge difference in peoples lives,” says Anna. “All you have to do is have the courage to stand up and pull people together so you can have an even bigger impact.”
KiranLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founder, Waste No Food
Age at Winning Prize16
Kiran conceived of a simple system that would make use of technology and allow donors to post available food to pre-approved charities who in turn, would claim it and pick it up. He has rallied 140 students at his high school to help sign-up food donors and make the system a rousing success, with others schools and community colleges eager to start their own chapters. For the past year, Kiran has been developing a mobile app for cell phones set to launch soon that will allow even easier and more efficient use of Waste No Food. “I’ve learned that it’s possible to make a difference in the world if one is committed,” says Kiran.
Raised money to help Boston Marathon bombing victims
Age at Winning Prize14
Watching coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing survivors who lost limbs, Michael wanted to help them in the way so many people had helped him. After much brainstorming, he and his brothers decided the oldest, a college freshman in Boston who’d never run a marathon, would ask people to sponsor him in running the 2014 Boston Marathon on behalf of the bombing victims. The boys named their idea Mikey’s Run. Within a week, they had created a website and hit social media hard. Michael designed and sold hundreds of Mikey’s Run t-shirts, organized a fun run at his school with over 350 participants, and convinced local stores to sponsor his efforts. The brothers’ project eventually went viral and attracted the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who mentioned the boys in her 2013 Harvard Commencement Speech and made a $100,000 personal donation to Mikey’s Run. All of the money raised is donated to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s Comprehensive Rehab Center to enable ongoing medical care, resources, and recovery for the Boston Marathon bombing amputees. “I wanted the victims to know that if I could get my life back, they could, too,” says Michael. “I’ve learned that supporting a cause is my way of leaving my mark.”
AbbyLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Promoted the use of reusable shopping bags
Age at Winning Prize15
Fueled by this success, Abby speaks at schools and environmental fairs about the dangers of plastic bags, something she witnessed firsthand as part of an ocean plastic pollution research expedition conducted by 5 Gyres Institute. Abby was invited as the youngest crew member ever aboard the non-profit group’s 72-foot research vessel for a week-long voyage from Bermuda to Rhode Island, documenting plastic pollution. She is currently using her Facebook page to share the latest plastic bag legislation from around the world, and has been testifying at hearings regarding a plastic bag ordinance in Chicago. “You’re never too young to make a difference,” says Abby.
Finn and Anna
Spearheaded the building of a community root cellar
Age at Winning PrizeBoth 18
Finn and Anna set out to change that. They created the Food Justice Root Cellar intiative and began researching the science and consruction of root cellars. They found the perfect place to build just behind the elementary school and addressed the school board, town review committees, and auditoriums filled with community members to promote their idea. They sketched design plans, solicited help from a structural engineer, obtained permits, and launched a campaign to raise the $20,000 needed for construction. The two girls and their CTWK team worked alongside contractors and excavators, shoveling gravel, pouring cement, and building retaining walls, and then filled the root cellar with crates of local produce for the food bank. Finn and Anna are also partnering with local elementary school teachers and students to create an activity booklet about food justice, healthy nutrition, and growing and preserving vegetables. “In figuring out how to better feed others, I’ve fueled myself,” says Anna. Finn adds, “I’ve found that with passion and determination, I truly can help change the world.”
Founder, Claire’s Place Foundation
Age at Winning Prize17
Her first goal was to set up an Extended Hospital Stay Fund to help families pay bills and reduce financial worries while caring for their children during lengthy hospitalizations. She also created CF University, a website of text and video resources to help newly diagnosed families understand the world of CF and to give longtime CFers the latest information and hope. The website offers detailed, child- and teen-friendly information on terminology and medical procedures, and on living life with Cystic Fibrosis to the fullest, not just struggling along until there is a cure. Claire is also working to create a Support Families program that will connect newly diagnosed or isolated families with a more experienced support family. “I can’t help but feel that Cystic Fibrosis gave me the gift of passion – passion for life and all it holds, its ups and downs, struggles and opportunities,” explains Claire. “And I can’t imagine a better way to live than trying to share some of that passion and help others going through the same thing.”
Founder & Publisher, Love GIRLS Magazine
Age at Winning Prize18
Passionate about writing and illustrating stories since a young age, Jasmine decided just before her 16th birthday to create a magazine by girls and for girls. She taught herself how to design and layout each issue and built a volunteer network of support, pulling in adult mentors and college student interns to help. She raises funds to publish the magazine through ad sales, donations, and grants. The “Love” in her publication’s title stands for Lead, Overcome, Value, and Empower. Each issue features a local girl on the cover and includes stories about girls doing inspiring things to help others, tips for setting goals and celebrating successes, and the message that there are no limits to what girls can do. “I created my magazine to help girls become confident,” says Jasmine. “The funny thing is, I have grown in confidence and have learned that the sky is the limit!”
Rory and MaeveLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founders, Kids Love the Gulf
Age at Winning Prize16 and 11
Thrilled to have raised $8,000 to help marine animals, Rory and Maeve incorporated Kids Love the Gulf as a non-profit and began brainstorming ways to continue their fundraising. They decided to write an ABC book about the Gulf as a way to raise more money and increase awareness of the need to protect their favorite place. They researched and found a Gulf animal for each letter of the alphabet, asked their schoolmates to create artwork for the book, and enlisted a group of high school students to help with the writing. Their book, G is for Gulf, is sold in local bookstores and on Amazon, with proceeds used to send copies of the book to elementary school librarians across the country. Rory and Maeve speak often to school groups, sharing the book and ways that kids can help protect our oceans. The two dream of sinking a reef ball in the Gulf where they could measure coral growth and watch the beginning of a new ecosystem. “We’ve learned that if you dream it and work really hard, you can make anything happen,” say Rory and Maeve.
Founder, Students for Safe Water
Age at Winning Prize17
Fueled by that experience, Carter returned home to involve more of his peers in fundraising and, with the help of a Nicaraguan interpreter, organized English lessons for the new young friends he’d made. His group has raised additional funding by selling student-authored books and holiday cards, organizing a walk for water, and appealing to individuals and corporations for support. He has returned twice to Central America to continue his work and was recently invited as the only student speaker to address 7,000 kids at the Annual Children’s Water Education Festival, the nation’s largest of its kind. “My work has taught me to think big, work hard, and to persevere,” says Carter. “I’ve learned that you don’t have to wait until you’re ‘grown up’ to do something meaningful with your life.”
Founders, Team Winter
Age at Winning Prize15
Winter encourages both athletes and non-athletes to join Team Winter in fundraising for her cause and raises additional money through her extensive online apparel and gear store. She is thrilled that some of the money she has raised has helped researchers develop a new drug to treat advanced prostate cancers like her dad’s. She has won numerous championship titles around the world and sends her first place medals and trophies to cancer survivors as symbols of strength and hope. Winter travels extensively to spread her message in schools, hospitals, and corporations. She recently set a world record for the youngest person to run a marathon on every continent, traveling the world to do so in an 18-month period. Winter’s sights are currently set on making the 2018 Winter Olympics in aerial skiing. “I’ve learned that kids are capable of anything and truly are our future,” says Winter. “They need to be inspired, shown that anything is possible, and encouraged to dream big.”
Founder, Literacy for Little Ones
Age at Winning Prize17
Rachel’s project was born of her own love of reading for which she credits her mother, who put her on a “ten-books-a-day diet” from birth until kindergarten. With an initial grant of $500, Rachel purchased books and supplies, contacted her local hospital, gathered a few friends, and distributed 550 book packages that first year. Since then, she has convinced Kohl’s, Target, and two publishing companies to donate books to her cause. She has also inspired her peers to fundraise through popcorn and doughnut sales, and has received additional grants to buy books and supplies. On the 11th anniversary of 9/11, Rachel contacted teachers, coaches, and advisors at several local schools and organized nine groups of students in assembling 1,100 book packages. She recently expanded her project to include a hospital in Managua, Nicaragua. She found and ordered Spanish books for babies, translated her materials for parents from English to Spanish, and rallied her peers to assemble over 1,950 book packages for the Nicaraguan hospital in just one month. “I’ve come to see that volunteerism is really about realizing how fortunate I am,” says Rachel. “I’m just trying to give back some of what others have given me.”
Raised money to build schools in Kenya
Age at Winning Prize18
Stefan began his work at age 7, baking cookies and gathering blankets to distribute from his wagon on cold nights to the homeless on San Francisco’s streets. In third grade, he learned of the staggering number of children in Africa orphaned because of AIDS and told his mom he wanted to build them a school. He explained he would raise money by writing and selling copies of a book about his pet rat, Stitch. With his parents’ support, he did just that, raising $30,000 to fund his first school. Since then, Stefan, who lives with a neurological disorder, has written three additional books, spoken to thousands of people, and shared copies of his books with distressed and displaced children across the U.S. He has also traveled twice to Kenya to visit the schools he has built and to connect with the children there, learning of their hardships and sharing his own struggles. In his most recent book, An Extraordinary Journey, Stefan tells these children’s stories and explains how he and they share a determination to live lives of strength and purpose. “I’ve learned that life can be unfair and it’s up to us to change that and make a positive difference,” says Stefan. “You don’t have to be rich, famous, or even an adult. You just need to have an idea and act on it.”
Age 11, KentuckyRachel created Rachel’s Fun for Everyone Project to build a handicapped accessible playground in her community after seeing kids with disabilities sitting on the playground sidelines watching other children play. She approached her town’s City Council and immediately won their support, including the pledge of space in a city park. Rachel set to work raising money, designing and selling t-shirts and organizing fundraisers such as an auction, dance, community garage sale, and 5k race. She has raised over $40,000 of the $100,000 needed and recently received her non-profit status, enabling her to apply for grants. “You don’t have to wait until you’re a grown-up to make your amazing idea happen,” says Rachel. “I’ve learned that if I put my mind to something and work really hard and never give up, anything is possible!”
Age 16, Rhode IslandCassandra led a small group of her peers in founding Project TGIF (Turn Grease Into Fuel), a sustainable system that collects waste cooking oil from residents and restaurants and refines it into biodiesel to help New England families with emergency heating assistance. In six years, her group has collected over 170,000 gallons of waste cooking oil that has generated 140,000 gallons of biodiesel, with proceeds from its sale allowing local charities to help 290 families stay warm. TGIF has also introduced and passed a law mandating that all Rhode Island businesses recycle their waste cooking oil. Most recently, her team persuaded the local school department to use biodiesel in its school bus fleet. “We’ve accomplished so much more than we originally believed we could,” says Cassandra. “I’ve realized how much the world is connected and that we should work closely with one another to make the world a better place!”
Age 17, OklahomaMatthew founded A Chance for the Children and created its premier fundraising event, The Orphan Run, to raise nearly $180,000 to fund several orphan homes, six water wells, and a school in Africa. Matthew began his work three years ago following a service trip to Uganda, where he befriended a group of children who were orphaned. Determined to build them a home, he decided to organize The Orphan Run in his hometown of Tulsa, patterned after other similar Orphan Run fundraisers across the country. Matthew has organized four other successful races and is currently working to build a medical clinic and vocational training center in Uganda. “I’m so proud to stand with hundreds of other youth dedicated to transforming the lives of Ugandan orphans,” says Matthew. “Together, we are making a difference and changing the world.”
On the Web
Age 19, New JerseyPaige has collected over 106,000 toothbrushes through her organization, Donate A Toothbrush, and has distributed them to impoverished people in more than 60 countries around the world. She began her work three years ago when she discovered that millions of people suffer pain and serious health problems simply for lack of a toothbrush. She created a website, began organizing large-scale toothbrush drives, and with the help of Scout troops and other student groups, is now the leading source of toothbrushes for World Dental Relief. In the past year, she has met with executives at major corporations to obtain pledges for huge quantities of additional toothbrushes, including hundreds of thousands to supply a new dental school in Ethiopia. “I’ve learned that I can make a real and significant difference in the lives of others,” says Paige. “It just takes simple kindness, like donating a toothbrush.”
On the Web
Age 13, ColoradoMilo created the Be Straw Free campaign to reduce plastic waste by working to make it standard for straws to be optional instead of automatically served with restaurant beverages. He began his work nearly three years ago and learned that we use about 500 million straws in the U.S. every day — enough to fill more than 46,400 large school buses each year. Milo started by simply talking to individual restaurant owners to encourage an “offer-first” straw policy. He has since been invited to speak at the National Restaurant Association’s Best Practices Conference, an annual gathering of the largest restaurant chains in the country, and to meet with members of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C. Through Milo’s efforts, the National Parks Service’s largest concessioner, at the Grand Canyon, is now straw free. “I want to encourage kids to take action because even small steps are creating the future of our planet,” says Milo.
On the Web
Age 15, OregonKaylee created a city-wide day of volunteering in her hometown that has involved over 3,000 people in completing 46 community service projects in the past four years. The group has also raised more than $28,000 for local non-profits and has collected over 8,000 pounds of food for the local food bank. Raised in a family that values volunteering, Kaylee held a garage sale at age 10 that netted over $2,000 to buy and fill 150 backpacks for local foster children. Buoyed by that success, she decided to invite the whole town to volunteer for a day at her first Power of Florence. Community members have helped with roadway and school clean-ups and have created a community garden and off-leash dog park. City officials have declared the third Saturday in July every year to be the Power of Florence. “I’ve learned that kids can have a huge impact on their community,” says Kaylee. “It’s not the size of a person that really matters. It’s the size of their heart that does.”
Age 18, New YorkJonathan has designed a micro-hydroelectric facility in the center park of his hometown on a historic stream once know for its water-powered mills. His facility will generate five kilowatts of clean electricity that will be net metered to the grid, with revenues paying for ongoing maintenance. The facility will produce the electricity using a picturesque water wheel and drop turbine on a pre-existing dam. His hope is to teach and inspire people about renewable energy and sustainability, as well as to enhance a public space tied to the area’s history as the “Pancake Flour Capital of the World.” Jonathan has gained the support of engineers, civic groups, environmental and conservation officials, and the Army Corps of Engineers, and will begin construction once fundraising is complete. “With this project I’m contributing to increasing local and global awareness of the need for sustainability,” says Jonathan. “I’ve realized that I can have an impact.”
On the Web
Age 14, CaliforniaClaudia founded the Bookworm Foundation in 2006 and since then, has donated 35,100 new books, 100 at a time, to 351 elementary schools, hospitals, and shelters for homeless and abused children across the country. Claudia actually began donating books at age six, when she first realized that all schools don’t have the resources to fill their library shelves. In addition to securing and donating new books, she enjoys reading at local schools and talking to kids about how much fun reading can be. Claudia is currently approaching foundations and book companies to ask for donations of more books in order to expand her project. “I hope to change the United States and then maybe the world, one donation at a time,” says Claudia. “All kids can make a difference – can take a love of theirs and create a way to help.”
Age 18, WashingtonAustin founded Spring to the Tap, a non-profit that is working to raise awareness about the benefits of tap water and the negative effects of bottled water and plastics. He has promoted a free screening of the documentary Tapped and sets up a booth at local events, giving away reusable water bottles and asking people to take blind taste tests to determine the difference in taste between tap water and bottled water. To promote community use of tap water, Austin has worked to receive approval from city officials to construct a drinking fountain and bottle filling station in a prime location on the main street of town. The city has agreed to provide water and electricity, and Austin is fundraising so as to complete construction within a year. “I’ve realized that I can do whatever I set my mind to,” says Austin. “I’ve learned that I have what it takes to be a leader and to make our planet a better place for future generations.”
Age 17, New YorkRaymond founded the Little St. Nick Foundation ten years ago to provide entertainment, education, and activities for hospitalized children. He provides local emergency rooms with a constant supply of stuffed animals and art supplies, and stocks hospital playrooms with books, art materials, and enough toys for each child to take a special one home when he or she leaves the hospital. He also creates teen lounges and mobile entertainment centers complete with IPads, computers, printers, TVs and DVD players, and grants wishes to sick children, including an $80,000 home extension for a severely disabled child. “I hope to inspire more children to give back to their community,” says Raymond.
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America. Each year, the Barron Prize honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment.
Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes | P.O. Box 1470 | Boulder, CO 80306