These Kids Aren’t Spoiled: They’re Changing the World

Written on April 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm , by

I think it’s debatable whether todays’ kids are spoiled, overprotected, distracted, game-addicted or less polite than previous generations. That has not been my personal experience with the kids I know. And since the big, splashy, star-studded stage event We Day is currently touring the world, launching a year of social activism for youth called We Act, I happen to have some statistics at hand that I like—and that seem more in keeping with my experience—about today’s kids:

Through their involvement in We Act, over 2 million youngsters have gotten behind local and global causes, volunteered their time, raised money, attended camps to learn how to lead other youth to change the world, and used social media—another often-denigrated modern development—to raise awareness for causes they care about.

These kids have:

• raised $37 million for more than 1,000 local and global causes
• volunteered 9.6 million hours for local and global causes
• collected 4 million pounds of food for local food banks
• logged 7.5 million hours of silence to stand up for children in developing communities who are silenced by poverty and exploitation

It starts with the We Day event, which gets kids pumped up with the message that everyone—no matter how young—can make a difference simply by believing in a cause and doing something about it. Then the site provides schools and families with the resources they need to actually get involved in whatever social change they want to make happen. So maybe, instead of lamenting our kids’ failures (and our own parental mistakes that led there), why not watch the video (above) with them and see what happens?

If kids still doubt they can effect change, point out that We Day and We Act are part of Free the Children, which was founded in 1995 by Craig and Marc Kielburger when Craig was 12 years old. Craig rallied a handful of classmates to rescue children from child labor, and discovered that he could make a difference even though he was himself just a kid. Since then, Craig has become a social entrepreneur, a New York Times bestselling author and a syndicated columnist, and founded a youth organization that has taught 2.3 million young people that they can change the world for the better.

I’m sure there are some spoiled, overprotected kids out there. But they can change. And I can’t get behind this idea that today’s youth aren’t doing anything worthy. They seem like an impressive bunch to me.

Christina Tynan-Wood has been covering technology since the dawn of the Internet and currently writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle. You can find more advice about buying and using technology at GeekGirlfriends.com.

Volunteer in Remembrance of 9-11

Written on August 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm , by

Painting homes, organizing food drives and cleaning up neighborhoods and beaches are just some of the good deeds hundreds of thousands of Americans did to celebrate the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th last year—and the hope is to get even more people involved this year. To help with a project in your area or to organize one, visit serve.gov/sept11.asp.

Celia Shatzman is associate editor at Family Circle.

Teens Who Make a Difference

Written on October 25, 2011 at 7:11 am , by


In Family Circle‘s November 29 issue, writer John Hanc profiled five young adults who are changing the world, one small project at a time. Kristen Powers, 18, cleaned up an abandoned lot and started a community garden in its place. Jordan Coleman (pictured above), 16, created two films that educate his peers about dating violence and staying in school, respectively. Sisters Ritwika, 15, and Radhika Mitra, 19, provide Indian artisans with tools to help them make crafts–and a living. And Adin Lykken, 20, holds road races to raise money to support a local animal shelter. Read about them and learn how to get involved in their causes here.

I find their stories humbling and inspiring. I’d love to hear about other teens involved in similar pursuits. Do you know of any? If so, share their stories below.