Community & Current Events

How young people are changing the world

By: Craig and Marc Kielburger

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Community & Current Events

How young people are changing the world

By: Craig and Marc Kielburger

Craig: Ayla and Van Hamilton were at a Mother's Day brunch in Russell, MB, when they noticed a woman crying. She was one of their mother's coworkers at the local inn where the event was held. Afterward, the preteen siblings asked their mom about the forlorn woman. "She misses her children," was the answer. The Filipina hoped to earn enough money in Canada to eventually bring her family here. But until she could afford immigration fees and airfares, she and her kids would remain on opposite sides of the world. The Hamiltons soon heard of dozens of other moms, working at the inn and in their community, who were separated from their children. So Ayla and Van hatched a plan to help. Eighteen months and hundreds of doorstep visits, letters and lemonades later, their Kids Helping Kids fundraising project flew a girl named Shaina overseas to be reunited with her mother. She was the first of 42 Filipino children the girls plan to help.

Marc: There are young shining stars like Ayla and Van all around us. There's Miranda Tymoschuk from Coquitlam, BC, who underwent 11 major surgeries for a rare bone condition in her legs. She raised thousands for Pay It Forward, a fund benefiting the families of children receiving treatment at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. David Kawapit and his fellow Nishiyuu walkers wanted the federal government to understand the desperate conditions faced by their Cree community in northern Quebec, so they walked 1,600 kilometres to Ottawa, drawing national attention. Frustrated that young Torontonians in social housing had few opportunities to get involved in social action, Mellonie Daniel started We.Will.Now, a movement that offers youth a chance to get involved in activities like ethical fashion shows and global health initiatives. Thousands more young people contribute their ideas and talents to communities across the country.

Craig: These young change makers don't do it for the recognition, but with a little acknowledgement from the adults in their lives, they can develop the confidence and resilience needed to make their bright ideas a reality. Talk to your kids about the impact they're making with the smallest of actions, and celebrate their victories and milestones. For budding change makers, a movie night after volunteering or a pizza party following an afternoon selling lemonade is a well-deserved reward. Keep their teachers informed of their activities, and tell local papers or elected representatives their stories, so other adults can congratulate them on their efforts. Every bit of support helps those working diligently to tackle often overwhelming issues.

Marc: That's why we created the Me to We Awards with our friends at Canadian Living. This is our 10th year celebrating Canada's shining young stars and their bright ideas, and we need your help. We first heard of Ayla and Van, David and Mellonie—all runners-up for last year's awards—because people in their lives wanted them to be recognized. Winners receive $5,000 to donate to the charity of their choosing. So it's your turn, Canada. Nominations are open now through May 9. Tell us about the shining stars in your community who are changing the world, one person at a time. And when you're done, give them a high five (or a youth-friendly fist bump) from us.

The 10th Annual Canadian Living Me to We Awards
Now's the time to honour that deserving person in your school or community who lives and breathes Me to We principles. To nominate someone for a Me to We Award, visit canadianliving.com/metowe.

For more inspiring stories from Marc and Craig, read about the true meaning of love
                                               
This story was originally titled "Change Makers" in the April 2014 issue.
           
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How young people are changing the world

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