During childhood, kids dream of tackling the impossible. Their goals may seem lofty, but there is no denying their possibility. Unlike adults, a child’s optimism has not yet been crushed by years of disappointing experiences. Kids possess what child prodigy Adora Svitak calls “childish thinking.” It is the kind of thinking experienced by big dreamers who want to do something good and useful and are without the sometimes sensible and sometimes irrational reservations that adults have when thinking of embarking upon a major challenge. Svitak began thinking of herself as a writer at the age of four. By six, she was using a laptop to compose her stories. Before too long, she was a seasoned blogger and a published writer. Her first publication, Flying Fingers, was no easy feat. Lacking the credibility of an adult, publishers rejected her solicitations. Being a strong-willed and determined child encouraged her perseverance, and, finally, her work was accepted and sent to press. Svitak is an inspiration to us all, but her story is proof to youngsters like her that kids can accomplish whatever they put their mind to.
When you ask a child about his or her goals, many will surprise you by explaining how they envision helping improve life for the planet and its people. Countless kids have stories that illustrate how they did just that, and the impact of many is amazing. Kids are capable of helping their neighbors as well as others around the world. Their dreams of helping make a difference are inspiring, especially to other children who dream of making a change. Being the difference is so easy that even a third grader can do it! At eight years old, Cayden Taipalus witnessed a disheartening fact of life: money troubles kept a fellow student from eating lunch. Imagining what it must be like to go hungry and realizing that so many other kids suffered the same problem led Taipalus to begin an effort to pay off student lunch debt and to purchase meals for other children. He began this endeavor by recycling cans and bottles. When others saw this on social media, they began to donate to Taipalus’s cause. His drive to make a change has inspired others to begin programs like this in their own communities.
Often, the only thing keeping an enormous task from getting done is money and improving the world can cost a lot of money. Without having ever earned a paycheck, kids do not see this as an impossible obstacle. They know there are ways to raise money. Sometimes, all one must do is ask. Following Hurricane Katrina, 10-year-old Talia Lehman organized a fundraising effort in her community to coincide with Halloween. Instead of going door to door for candy during the community trick-or-treat, the children would collect coins. Their hefty donations went to helping survivors of Hurricane Katrina meet their basic needs. As time passed, Lehman continued on a path of philanthropy. Now, she is a founder of RandomKid, an organization that has built schools, provided medical care, and improved the well-being of people around the world.
Kids love working to improve the environment and its creatures, too. When they’re not using favorite holiday past times to raise donations, they are using their own innate talents to get the job done. Child artist Olivia Bouler has a talent for creating paintings and drawings of all kinds of birds. As an artist who cares deeply for these creatures, she wanted to work to improve the ecosystem in the Gulf following an oil spill tragedy which dramatically ruined habitat. A great deal of money was needed to improve the beaches along the Gulf, and Bouler knew the Audubon Society was a part of this mission. Bouler wanted to help fund their cause. She began to sell her bird pictures, and many times, her work fetched thousands of dollars.
Raising thousands happens more often than one would think. Kids can even use the time-tested money-making lemonade stand to earn a fortune. Vivienne Harr did just that when she committed herself to running a lemonade stand for one year to donate to a nonprofit focused on ending childhood slavery worldwide. Instead of charging customers a set price for a glass of lemonade, she asked them to decide what they themselves wanted to give. After 365 days of operating the stand, Harr had raised over $100,000. Her story continued and her product soon found its way to online sales and to select grocery stores.
It is evident that little kids can make a big difference in the world. By hearing their stories, other children can see that it is possible to make a huge impact at a young age. When kids see how successful they can be, their dreams will soar to even higher goals.