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Inspirational People: A Selection of Young People

The achievements of inspirational children and young people

by Philippa Rae

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To celebrate the difference that inspirational children and young people make to the lives of others.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Think about a time when you made a difference to someone’s life. You may have been involved in fundraising, such as a sponsored walk or silence. Perhaps you have volunteered your time to help others by manning a stall at a fundraising event, or helped elderly people with their shopping. These are all great ways to help others and, as Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, said, ‘Things don’t have to change the world to be important.’

    Today, we are going to look at some young people who have taken their sense of social responsibility even further in their aim to help others. They live in different parts of the world, and their contributions are very different, but they all share the same sense of responsibility and compassion. They all aim to make other people’s lives better.

  2. Sometimes, it only takes something small to inspire us. Katie Stagliano lives in America. When she was nine years old, she brought home a cabbage seedling as part of her school's Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program. Katie nurtured her seedling until it grew into an enormous vegetable weighing 40 pounds! Katie donated the cabbage to a soup kitchen, where it helped to feed over 275 people. From this one cabbage was born the idea for ‘Katie’s Krops’, a project to create vegetable gardens where fresh and healthy produce could be donated to people in need. 

    Today, Katie’s Krops offers grants to children aged between nine and 16, which enable them to buy the items that they need to grow their own produce. Growing areas range from a pot that is large enough to grow a single vegetable to a designated allotment. The idea is simple, fun and very successful - in 2015, there were 83 Katie's Krops gardens across America. Not only do the gardens provide healthy supplies to the hungry, they also empower the growers, providing them with valuable life skills and instilling in them a sense of pride and responsibility.

  3. Fifteen-year-old James Curtis has also made a huge impact. Last year, he won the Children’s Achievement Award at the Children and Young People Now Awards. He is an ambassador for a charity called Auditory Verbal UK, which teaches deaf babies and children to listen and speak so that they can achieve their full potential in life. James works with parents and trains councils and NHS professionals on behalf of deaf children. He also raised more than £500,000 to go towards the training of more auditory verbal therapists by delivering a speech to hundreds of business professionals. This is a huge achievement for any teenager, but even greater given that James was born profoundly deaf and has undergone years of auditory verbal therapy. He is not only an inspirational advocate for deaf children and young people, but a role model for other teenagers.

  4. Ryan Hreljac lives in Canada. When he was six years old, he learned about the devastating consequences that people faced in countries where there was poor sanitation and no access to fresh, clean water. Although he was very young, he felt so strongly about it that he wanted to help tackle the problem. At first, Ryan set about doing extra chores to earn money. Later, he started participating in public speaking events with the aim of raising the $2,000 needed for his first well in northern Uganda. Three years later, the Ryan’s Well Foundation was born. Today, over 992 communities have clean water due to this project and 1,153 latrines have been completed in 16 countries. The Foundation has saved lives by reducing the risk of disease and given more than a million vulnerable people the prospect of a brighter future.

  5. Elle Grace Morris is ten years old. She was diagnosed with the medical condition, cystic fibrosis, when she was 15 months old. Elle needs a double lung transplant, but her courageous and generous approach to life has had a direct impact on everyone she meets. Despite her illness, Elle came up with the idea of recording a song to raise funds for both the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. She wanted to give something back to the organizations that have helped her and other children, by raising awareness of cystic fibrosis and the importance of organ donation. With her mum's help, she persuaded several celebrities to record a song to raise funds. The song, entitled 'Breathe – life unlimited', has a cast of 200 people. The cast includes those living with cystic fibrosis, and also 35 celebrities, among them Olly Murs and Rita Ora. The song features the sound of them all breathing deeply over an instrumental backing.

Time for reflection

The author, Sarah Addison Allen, said, 'You can't change where you came from, but you can change where you go from here.’

Let’s think about the people whose stories we have just heard. With each of them, a simple idea developed into something significant.

Ask the students what they found inspiring about their stories.

Katie, James, Ryan and Elle are all courageous, caring and compassionate young people. All of them were inspired to make a positive change by raising awareness of issues that were important to them. They wanted to make the future better for other people.

Ask the students if they can think of a way in which they might make a difference.

You may not have an idea that will grow into a huge project, but maybe we could all do something for a few hours each month that could help to make someone’s life a bit better. Perhaps we could get involved with volunteering or fundraising work. Or maybe you could have the courage to take the first steps to something bigger!

Prayer
Dear Lord,
We thank you for young people like Katie, James, Ryan and Elle, who have worked hard to make the world a better place. 
We thank you for the other young people throughout the world whose sense of social responsibility gives them the motivation and passion to help others.
Please help us to work towards being better people, who make positive differences to the lives of those we meet.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Greatest love of all’ by Whitney Houston

Publication date: June 2016   (Vol.18 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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