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Continuing Goodness: Young Heroes Making a Difference During Tough Times
It’s hugely heartening (though not at all surprising) that so many of our Barron Prize young heroes have continued their good work during the pandemic. They have faced this tough time with their usual positivity, perseverance, and strength of spirit. They’ve worked creatively and resourcefully to tweak their existing projects and to invent new ones. We so admire and appreciate their unwavering commitment to helping other people and the planet. Below, we share some of the inspiring ways our young heroes have continued to make a difference during the past few months.
Though Adom’s annual celebrity basketball game couldn’t take place in April, he and his peers came up with a great alternative to raise money for local nonprofits. The team decided to play music instead of basketball and called the campaign Music4Good. The teens entertained community members virtually through song and dance, and encouraged viewers to donate to their GoFundMe campaign. Adom’s group raised more than $13,000 for local organizations including Citizen Scholars, which supports disadvantaged youth in attending college, and the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind.
Addy inspired her Facebook fans with a daily read-aloud of the beautiful book The One and Only Ivan. It’s a fictional story based on the actual gorilla Ivan who spent most of his life inside a tiny mall zoo before being moved to Zoo Atlanta. Addy’s read-aloud culminated with a virtual Q&A with Jodi Carrigan, the Assistant Curator of Primates at Zoo Atlanta, who cared for Ivan for ten years. Addy also reinvented her annual Gorilla Gala fundraiser as a virtual event in late May. This year’s version featured a livestream of fun gorilla-themed games and an online silent auction that raised $2,500 to protect gorillas. Addy donated the money to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and The Ellen Fund.
Khloe has expanded her mission to help the homeless by creating and donating handmade masks. She and her team are “sewing machines” and have created more than 500 masks so far. Check out her DIY video tutorial for instructions on how to make masks for yourself and others. Khloe has also continued to help distribute meals to the homeless and STEM kits for underserved kids. She was recently recognized on the Today Show as one of ten kids across the country rising up to help others during the pandemic.
Gitanjali combined her passions for STEM and helping others in launching her latest project on May 2. Kindly is an initiative to end cyberbullying and to help students feel safer online. Her website uses the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence to detect and prevent cyberbullying, especially in schools. “I like to spread the message of kindness and its importance in our community,” said Gitanjali in a recent blog posted by UNICEF, which is partnering with her on the new project. “I like to use technology to solve problems in our community and hopefully inspire others to be kind to self, community, and environment.”
Ruby has continued her many kindnesses for nursing home residents, who have been particularly isolated during the pandemic. She and her team recently began daily deliveries of Smile Sacks, lunch-sized paper bags that include small wishes (items that residents have requested) along with notes of kindness. She has also organized young children to “visit” with the elderly from outside nursing home windows and has created a public Amazon Wish List for supporters to use in fulfilling residents’ wishes.
Rosie has launched her #buyamaskgiveamaskcampaign, encouraging people to use her colorful, kid-designed headscarves as non-surgical masks. For each headscarf mask sold, she’s donating one to first responders, health care professionals, and children’s hospitals. So far, she has donated more than 1,000 headscarf masks across the country. Rosie was recently honored as a Youth Hero by the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois.
Jahkil has made great use of the hundreds of personal care items that supporters donated at a 4th anniversary party for his project held just before stay-at-home orders took effect. He’s made more than 1,250 Blessing Bags from home in the past few months, which family members have distributed to organizations that help the homeless. Like Khloe, he was recently featured on the Today Show as a young person helping others during the pandemic. “I think it’s important to do things that inspire others,” Jahkil said in a recent Chicago Tribune article. “It will cause a chain effect if one person inspires another person and that person can go inspire other people. I think that’s very important, especially at this time.”