Kids Creating Change

You don’t have to be a billionaire or 70 years old to earn the title “philanthropist.” Kids today are harnessing the power of their own passions, interests and concern to powerfully impact the lives of others and our planet for the better, both locally and globally.

At the age of 6, Ryan Hrelijac learned that a simple well was all that was needed by the many people around the world who are at risk of illness and even death due to a lack of access to clean drinking water. Ryan met his fund-raising goal to build a well in Africa in four months. Through the Ryan’s Well Foundation, Ryan has spearheaded the raising of over $1 million and has made an impact on the lives of over 547,000 people in developing countries. The foundation has a Youth Ambassador program through which 15- to 17-year-olds can become empowered to help the effort to inform others about the need for clean water and help make a difference.

Nine-year-olds Janine Licare Andrews and Aislin Livingstone sold painted rocks in Costa Rica in order to help protect the local rainforests and endangered Titi monkeys. A year later, the girls opened the Kids Saving the Rainforest store selling not only their own artwork, but also those of other locals. All profits go towards preserving the local rainforest, rehabilitating baby and injured animals, educating children about the connection between humans and nature, and having a wildlife sanctuary for animals.

Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) was founded in 1990 by two teens in order to “connect, inspire and empower” youth to unite in order to create a “thriving, just and sustainable way of life.” YES! has effectively convinced businesses and schools to offer organic and vegetarian options in the cafeteria, purchase recycled products, retrofit their lighting, and offer anti-prejudice trainings.

For information on more charities founded by kids or to find resources that might help you to help your community, check out idealist.org.

By Terri Hall-Jackson, Care2 contributing writer

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