This year marks the 10th anniversary of Highlights State of the Kid, an annual survey that gives kids the chance to express what is on their minds and what is most important to them. In this year’s survey we probed on who and what influences kids today and do they feel heard and empowered. Given this topic we caught up with Adora Svitak and Hannah Taylor, both of whom were featured as Gallant Kids in Highlights magazine, for making a positive impact in their communities. We asked them to share their thoughts on how kids can make a difference and how kids can make their own voices heard.
“Age does not define what you can do,” shares Hannah Taylor, founder of The Ladybug Foundation, who was profiled in the February 2007 issue of Highlights to recognize her efforts on making a positive impact in her community. She founded The Ladybug Foundation to raise funds and awareness for those who experience homelessness, hunger, or poverty across Canada. Hannah’s foundation continues to support more than 70 shelters, soup kitchens, and food banks. At a very young age, Hannah understood that a five-year-old voice is just as profound and important as a 50-year-old voice.
“What you care about and what you think matters, and it matters right now,” shares Hannah. “Young people are innovative, hopeful, and brilliant, and their passionate hearts should be taken seriously. If you are a young person interested in making change, the first step is to learn as much as you can about what you care about. Then reach out to others about doing something to make change. You are never alone in what you are passionate about, and with a solid team you can make an even bigger difference.” Hear from Hannah in her own words.
“As a child, you have a unique ability to look someone in a position of power in the eye and ask them, ‘Why is the world like this? How can we make it better?’ Be relentless in asking those questions; realize that in and of itself is a kind of power,” offers Adora Svitak, a Gallant Kid featured in the December 2008 issue of Highlights for channeling her love of writing and traveling to schools across the country to talk to kids about reading and writing. Currently a student at the University of California, Berkeley, Adora is a published author, internationally acclaimed speaker, and advocate for causes including literacy, youth empowerment, and feminism. In the decade since she was featured, Adora has used her powerful voice to inspire kids (and adults) all over the world. Hear from Adora directly.
We are encouraged that we are raising a generation of upstanders who believe adults and the world at large care about what they have to say, and who take action when they see the need for justice.
My name is Carlie, and I am 13 years old. My mission is to change the world with kindness, and my motto has always been “It doesn’t matter how old you are—you can make a difference!”
I choose projects that are close to my heart and enlist my community’s support to help spread kindness! I started Carlie’s Kindness Campaign when I was 9, and it recently became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. So far, through my projects, I’ve raised $2,500 worth of toys and games for kids going through chemo, sent Christmas gifts to our military servicemen and servicewomen overseas, delivered homemade baked goods to local fire and police departments to thank them, created a program at my school to promote respect for people with special needs and disabilities, organized the first annual Kindness Rocks 5K family fun run and walk to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, held a hurricane-relief supply drive for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and hosted a Veteran and Active Duty Appreciation Lunch on Veterans Day!
Now, I speak at schools, holding assemblies to promote how awesome volunteering is, and to show kids that being kind is cool! I also do special random acts of kindness when I hear stories of people who need some kindness in their life, like a little girl diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or a single mom who has breast cancer, or a family who lost everything in a house fire. I send them a little something, like a gift card or a coloring book, with a note, to brighten their day.
I feel like Carlie’s Kindness Campaign has created an easy way for people in my community and surrounding areas (I call them Kindness Fans) to spread kindness and actively participate in making the world a better place. Because my organization helps with all kinds of issues and needs, each project is new and exciting, and draws people of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles to help me make each project happen.
My hope is that I inspire people to do good things for others, and show them that when people come together to help, amazing things can happen.
Carlie’s Kindness Campaign is about getting people to spread kindness, in any way, shape, or form. It is fun to see kids and grown-ups excited about getting involved, and if I can be the person to spark their interest or help them along the way, then my mission is being achieved. It is easy to help others if you’re willing to put in a little effort. Acts of kindness don’t have to be big or elaborate; they can be something as simple as holding the door for someone, helping your parents carry in groceries, telling a teacher or coach thank you, or shaking a veteran’s hand. I love giving kids ideas for possible projects in their own areas, like organizing a blanket drive for the homeless, collecting food for the food bank, writing letters to our troops, or playing games with people at a retirement home. I have a notebook filled with ideas for future projects!
I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish and thankful for those who are always ready and willing to help make things happen, and I love seeing faces light up when kindness comes their way. It really is my mission to try to make a difference and build relationships in my surrounding communities through giving, awareness, outreach, service projects, and acts of kindness. Our family doesn’t have a lot of money, but we do have a lot of love to spread around, and being kind doesn’t cost a dime! How are you spreading kindness in your community?