It was a 15th Century clergyman, John Mirk, who is credited with coining the phrase “Children should be seen but not heard”. Thank goodness, Mirk’s pronouncement is nowadays largely ignored.
Because there are children across the world who are standing up and fighting for what they believe and drawing our attention to their causes, which encompass everything from the environment, education, hunger, period poverty, Black Lives Matter, police brutality, and transgender rights to mental health, bullying, and gun control.
That’s young people like school girls Melati and Isabel Wijsen from Bali who were so incensed about the plastic pollution of their beautiful island home they took action.
KIDS FIGHTING FOR A CLEANER EVIRONMENT
Between them, the young founders of Bye Bye Plastic Bags raised awareness of the environmental impact of single-use plastic bags, started a petition, and organized mass beach clean-ups. The petition gained so many signatures and attracted so much attention that in 2018, the Balinese government banned all single-use plastic bags.
(Look out for Melati and Isabel in the Brainz for Change section of the upcoming December issue of BRILLIANT BRAINZ children’s magazine!)
KIDS FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM
It’s young people like the then 15-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan. She was shot in the head on a school bus by a member of the Taliban. Her crime? To speak out against a ban on education for girls. Thankfully, Malala recovered from her near-death experience and has gone on to become a global advocate for the right of all girls to receive a free, safe, quality education.
KIDS FIGHTING FOR EDUCATION & SOCIAL JUSTICE
When nine-year-old American schoolboy Asean Johnson heard that his state school in Chicago was among 54 earmarked for closure, he decided to step in and fight. Asean did everything he could to make sure his school was not on the closure list, including giving a series of incendiary speeches against the local city mayor.
He even delivered a speech at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where he invoked Martin Luther King Jr.: “Every school deserves equal funding and resources,” he said. “I encourage all of you to keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream alive. Help us fight for freedom, racial equality, jobs, and public education because I have a dream that we shall overcome.” Not surprisingly, Asean managed to save his school from closure.
KIDS FIGHTING FOR THE GOOD OF THE PLANET
Brazilian schoolboy Kauã Rodolfo was just 11 years old when his country was hit by several natural disasters in quick succession. First, there was a huge mudslide in the country’s southeast region. This was followed by an oil spill along its northeastern shores and then out-of-control fires in the Amazon rainforest.
Kauã sprang into action. He began to plant trees in Curitiba, a southern Brazilian city.
“It’s important to save the planet,” Kauã said, “and it’s important to protect the trees because they make us better.”
He is an ambassador of Plant for the Planet, the international awareness campaign started by nine-year-old German schoolboy Felix Finkbeiner in 2007. Felix’s original goal was to plant a few thousand trees to help curb climate change. As his idea spread, more children got involved. Within a few years, one million trees had been planted across the planet.
When Kauã first heard of Felix’s campaign, he was so inspired he signed up to take a one-day training to become an ambassador for Plant for the Planet.
Unlike so many environmental campaigners, Kauã is optimistic about the planet’s future.
“I’m not scared of the future of the planet, because I’m going to help the planet,” he said. “I’m going to do this. I’m going to go forward with this project. You don’t have to be scared.
“I don’t know why I love nature, but if I stopped planting trees, I would be sad,” he said.
KIDS FIGHTING TO END FOOD POVERTY
Another young man doing his best to change the world for the better is American William Winslow from North Carolina.
He was about seven years old when he first realised that one in five children in his home state was going hungry.
“That came as a shock,” the teenager said. “I thought everyone had the same life as me. It was a rude awakening to the real world.”
William persuaded his mother to drive to a local supermarket where he convinced shoppers to buy and donate food that would then be given to children who were at risk of hunger during the school holidays. Shoppers were delighted to take part.
In the seven years since then, he has collected more than 55,000 lbs of food and raised about £55,000 for his non-profit organisation, The Food Drive Kids. He runs it with the help of his brother Alexander.
Food Drive Kids runs an annual food drive with help from over 100 kids from the boys’ school and local Scout groups. They hand out food lists to shoppers, collect purchased boxed and canned items and load them into trucks.
Said William: “We prefer kid [volunteers] over adults because they don’t think something is impossible. They just want to do it, and it ends up being possible.”
The organisation also provides emergency food relief to the brothers’ local community and has helped build four school gardens to give kids access to healthy food. It has also set up two Little Food Pantries, which the brothers stock with food and toiletries each Friday.
“I will do whatever it takes to end childhood hunger,” he said.
William, Asean, Malala, Melati, Isabel, Kauã, Felix, and many other youngsters have shown that John Mirk was wrong. Children should not just be heard but actively encouraged to fight for what they believe in. Our world is a much better place when they do.
In every activity-packed issue of BRILLIANT BRAINZ educational children’s magazine, your child is exposed to inspiring stories and examples of caring, creativity, and inspired-action, like these. Why not gift your favourite young ‘creator-of-the-future’ a subscription, today?