MEET THE WINNERSA yearbook of the winners of the Barron Prize
MichaelLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founder, Get the Lead Out of Fishing
Age at Winning Prize
Working with scientists at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell and a veterinarian at Tufts University, Michael learned about non-lead alternatives, and soon got busy with his education and exchange program. He wrote grants and asked for contributions in order to make nearly 1,000 sample packages, which included non-lead weights and an informational card that he wrote. He asked for permission to participate in numerous fishing derbies, so that he could meet anglers and ask them to exchange their lead weights for his free package of safe alternatives. Over time, Michael distributed 700 sample packages, one fisherman at a time, and collected 63 pounds of lead – nearly 5,000 weights. He has spoken at the Massachusetts state legislature, and his research was used to help draft Senate Bill 466 to ban lead from fishing. “I’ve learned about the power of a good idea,” says Michael. “And I’ve learned that even small changes can save the lives of our endangered birds and wildlife.”
Founder, Magic Yeti Library
Age at Winning Prize
Phoebe first helped establish a partnership with The Asia Foundation, which committed to shipping books to Nepal. She then set to work collecting and boxing a thousand pounds of children’s books, receiving donations from local schoolchildren as well as contacts across the U.S. Once the books had been shipped, she traveled to Nepal and arranged for Nepali language books to be added to the collection. Finally, she and a group of volunteers began a week of work on the actual library, painting walls and organizing books. The Magic Yeti Library opened in April 2007 and now has a full-time librarian. Phoebe recently traveled to a completely different area of Nepal – the remote district of Mustang – to open her second library. “There’s a lot of work involved and also a lot of logistical challenges,” says Phoebe. “But when I’m reading aloud to a Nepalese child who has never seen a storybook before, I feel like I’m changing a life.”
MollieLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Campaigned to put polar bears on endangered species list
Age at Winning Prize
When the Alaska Wilderness League learned of Mollie’s work, they asked her to speak at an Arctic rally on Capitol Hill, where she shared the stage with Senators John Kerry and Bernie Sanders – and stood on a box in order to reach the microphone. Mollie’s passionate blog has had far-reaching ripple effects, inspiring her own Girl Scout troop and many other children across the country to take action on climate change and environmental protection. “I’ve learned that I’m ready to help the world,” says Mollie. “Sometimes I am lost at what to do, but if we think positive, we can accomplish great things.”
Founder, BUDDY – Building Understanding and Determination in Developing Youth
Since then, his group has grown to involve over 120 student tutors and thousands of tutorees. Paul has partnered with high tech companies, foundations, and colleges to raise $19,000 in funding for his program, and has received accolades from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has also spoken on Capitol Hill in support of a Congressional bill that mandates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs in every public high school. Still, Paul is most proud of the fact that 100% of BUDDY’s volunteer tutors have gone on to four-year colleges or universities, and have garnered over $133,000 in scholarships. “I’ve learned I have the tenacity and courage to create change in my community,” says Paul.
WilliamLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Organized the clean-up of a large-scale illegal dumping site
Having won the support of his early skeptics, William secured more donations in order to complete the signage, picnic areas, bird nesting boxes, and construction of bridges along a half-mile nature trail, which has received wildlife habitat certification through the National Wildlife Federation. To prevent future dumping at the site, William asked local law enforcement to increase its presence in the area, and is working with Pennsylvania Clean Ways to construct a barrier along the nearest roadway. “I’ve learned the meaning of tenacity,” says William. “If you are passionate enough about your objective, you can inspire others.”
Created Teens Connecting Continents
Age at Winning Prize
Teens Connecting Continents now provides a recreational soccer program for 2,700 Rwandan children. The group has purchased uniforms and equipment, hired a local director, and raised over 50% of the funding needed to rebuild the war-damaged soccer stadium. Zoe’s group also provides funding for Rwandan children to attend school for the first time, and is working to offer medical care. “I’ve gained a new kind of patience and perspective that has allowed me to appreciate a bigger picture,” says Zoe. “And I’ve learned that I can make a difference for kids on both sides of the world.”
ColinLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founder, Cool Coventry Club
Age at Winning Prize
He has conducted over forty educational events across Connecticut, and has distributed hundreds of his informational brochures, canvas bags, and bumper stickers. He has convinced the local grocer to sell compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and to post an informational card he wrote about them, and has urged the library to upgrade to the energy-efficient bulbs. Through petition campaigns, Colin has convinced the town to commit to purchasing 20% of its energy from clean sources by 2010. He has helped eleven local businesses create action plans to reduce energy use, has spoken at the state legislature, and is working to get recycling bins placed in the town park. He has also written educational materials for elementary children, and speaks often to student groups about forming their own climate campaigns. “Changing behavior is a slow process,” notes Colin. “But moving mountains begins with picking up one stone.”
ForrestLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Organizer, Pumpkin Project
Come October, he asked the kindergarten and first-grade students to help with the harvest, and showed them how to sell their pumpkins at the local farmer’s market. With sales of $2,500, Forrest and the young students purchased over 80 cases of non-perishable food, which they delivered to the local food bank, along with a $500 check. Forrest is excited to expand his project, and has been offered two additional fields for the coming season. “Take yourself and the world around you seriously,” Forrest advises. “Each of us can make a difference.”
Founder, Suzie’s Closet
Suzie’s Closet has loaned medical equipment, free of charge, to nearly 1,000 families, and has built wheelchair ramps for four special needs clients. The organization also provides families with travel stipends for out-of-area medical expenses. “No matter what limitations you have, they don’t have to hold you back,” says Suzie. “It’s just about looking beyond yourself and your own needs and struggles to those of other people around you.”
Founder, First V-M
Age at Winning Prize
A self-taught computer wiz who recently became qualified as a Mac Genius, Daniel realized he could use his passion for technology to help the Lebanese people. For the past three years, First-VM has recruited college students majoring in information technology to provide hardware and software installation services in the metro area where Daniel lives. In return, clients make voluntary donations, which are designated to Human Efforts in Aid of Lebanon (HEAL), a non-profit group that has helped 41,000 refugees from Lebanon, including Daniel’s parents. “I’ve become more aware of the needs of refugees and of the importance of lightening their burdens,” says Daniel.
Age 14, ConnecticutAddie introduced state legislation that would exonerate all those convicted of witchcraft in the Connecticut colonies, including her ninth generation removed great-grandmother, Mary Sanford. Addie is the first to attempt exoneration in Connecticut, which held the colonies’ second-largest witch-hunt.
Age 17, MinnesotaAnne created the non-profit “Dragonfly Project” as a way to help people who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Age 12, WashingtonJessica created “Richard’s Rwanda,” a group that supports education for young girls in Rwanda who have been affected by the genocide there.
Age 13, FloridaKelsie rode her horse 150 miles across Mississippi as a way to raise $100,000 in pledges and books to rebuild seven public libraries destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Age 17, GeorgiaLaura created Wild and Water, a program that provides free swimming and water safety lessons to low-income children.
Age 18, FloridaMargo started The Gift of Food, a project that sells original holiday cards designed by local artists as a way to raise funds for her community’s food bank. Has raised over $150,000.
Posthumously, New JerseyMischa founded Kids Helping Kids, a non-profit organization that raises money to help terminally ill children.
Age 15, North CarolinaNicholas founded the Nickelby Project, a non-profit organization which provides comfort items and gift bags to children facing extended hospital stays.
Age 18, ColoradoRobin founded the Never Alone Foundation to support people diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Her group offers emotional support, distributes educational brochures, and provides scholarships for children with IBD.
Age 18, VirginiaSarasi created the Keep Reading Foundation, which has collected and shipped over 10,000 children’s books to tsunami-affected areas in Sri Lanka.
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.