One of my favourite groups of ‘good people’ to write about are young people, for it’s inspiring to see today’s young people, the future caretakers of our world, who have big hearts and understand what is really important. Today, I stumbled on something I wanted to share with you.
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes is an annual award that celebrates “inspiring, public-spirited young people” from across the United States and Canada. Each year, the fifteen top winners receive $10,000 to support their service work or higher education. T.A. Barron, an author, established the prize in 2001 and named it after his mother. He writes about fictional young heroes in his novels, but champions inspiring young people in real life. According to Barron …
“These outstanding young people renew our hope for the world. By honoring these kids who are making a positive difference, we hope to inspire many others.”
So, T.A. Barron is my first good people, but let’s also look at some of last year’s prize winners …
Addison Barrett, 11, of Maryland, who founded Gorilla Heroes to raise awareness and funds to protect endangered mountain gorillas. Barrett has helped raise more than $7,000 for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and The Ellen Fund by selling homemade cookies and lemonade, organizing an annual Gorilla Gala, and designing and selling t-shirts. In her project’s early days, she encouraged giving by taking a pie in the face — over 100 times! — for each donation made. Today, she creates custom gorilla canvases to thank donors.
Adom Appiah founded Ball4Good, a non-profit that supports communities through sports. In the past three years, he has inspired and led numerous volunteers — many of them youth — in raising more than $70,000 for 16 local non-profits. His group has supported the Boys and Girls Club, the Children’s Advocacy Center, Miracle Hill Ministries, Brothers Restoring Urban Hope, Cancer Association of Spartanburg, and Project Hope Foundation, among others. Ball4Good’s signature annual event, the Celebrity Basketball Games, draws sold-out crowds to watch community leaders take on Adom and his peers. The 2019 games raised more than $30,000 for children. Adom has also rallied his school’s sports teams to fundraise for local non-profits and has collected new sports equipment for children in need.
Anna Du, age 13, invented a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that detects microplastics on the ocean floor. She has also created the Deep Plastics Initiative campaign (DPI) to educate others about preventing and cleaning up ocean plastics pollution. Through her DPI presentations around the world, Anna is inspiring young people to use science to tackle world problems. She is also encouraging scientists to work together in an open-source manner to develop innovative technologies. She has written a children’s book, Microplastics and Me, and has raised more than $7,000 to distribute it free to kids and libraries in high-need communities.
Charlie Abrams (age 15) and Jeremy Clark (age 14) co-founded Affected Generation, a youth-led non-profit working to fight climate change, help implement effective climate policy, and create environmental films. For the past three years, they have worked on the front end of Oregon’s Clean Energy Jobs bill (CEJ), which would force the state’s largest polluters to pay for every ton of carbon they produce. Funds raised from this would be reinvested into the state’s renewable energy programs. The boys have petitioned, testified, and marched for CEJ, which at first seemed certain to fail. They’ve organized and led lobby days that have produced the state’s largest ever turnouts for an environmental bill. They’re currently making an in-depth climate documentary about the history of the bill and are thrilled it’s expected to pass next legislative session.
Emma Angeletti, age 17, co-founded back2earth, an environmental non-profit that works to reduce the amount of food waste in landfills. She and her three siblings have developed a large-scale free composting service in Miami, collecting food waste and transforming it into compost. Working “to grow gardens, not landfills,” they donate the compost to local farmers and anyone who wants to start their own garden. In just three years, Emma and her team have diverted nearly 15,000 pounds of food waste from landfills and produced more than 5,000 pounds of compost. They have also prevented the emission of approximately 180,000 pounds of methane – an especially potent greenhouse gas emitted in massive amounts from landfills as food waste decomposes.
Garyk Brixi has worked for five years to develop better life-saving relief food for starving children in developing countries. He has formulated low-cost nutritious foods that could be produced using local crops near communities in need. Volunteering in Malawi, Garyk witnessed the obstacles facing community health practitioners. He learned of expensive relief foods shipped long distances, resource shortages, and the challenges of delivering treatment to children whose lives depend on it.
Grace Callwood, age 14, founded The We Cancerve Movement, a non-profit that creates ways for youth to help other children who are homeless, sick, and in foster care. Her group has donated more than $15,000 in cash grants and another $50,000 in products to youth-serving organizations across Maryland, Delaware, and Ohio. Grace began her work at age 7 following her diagnosis with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Unable to attend school because of chemotherapy, she donated her new back-to-school clothes to young girls whose family had lost everything in a fire. When she heard of their delight in receiving the gift, she decided to do more to help children in difficult situations.
Jamie Margolin, age 17, founded Zero Hour, an international youth climate justice movement. Her non-profit provides training, resources, and entry points for young people who want to take concrete action around climate change and environmental justice. Her 2018 Youth Climate March brought hundreds of young people to Washington, D.C. for a week of meetings, lobbying, and a march on the National Mall. The event inspired 25 sister youth marches around the world and the formation of nearly thirty Zero Hour sister chapters across several continents. Jamie recently organized the 2019 Youth Climate Summit in Miami. Her debut book, Youth To Power: Your Voice and How To Use It, was released on June 2nd, 2020.
Joseph Goldstein, 18, of Illinois, founded Kids for the Boundary Waters to lead young people in protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). The area is under imminent threat from sulfide-ore copper mines proposed right along the edge of the wilderness. The tailings from this mine will leach sulfuric acid and other heavy metals into the pristine watershed, irreparably damaging the Boundary Waters, Quetico Provincial Park, and Voyageurs National Park.
These are but a few of the 2019 winners, and the 2020 winners should be announced sometime this month, so perhaps I will do another post on this year’s winners. These are some awesome kids who are doing what we all should be doing … they make me feel downright lazy! They are our future, and it looks to me like they are already up for the task!