Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saving Grace

Although I posted already this month about Save the Children, I couldn't resist this story about 12-year-old Asma'a Abdullah, a displaced girl in Sa'adah, Yemen, who--despite limited literacy--challenged herself to learn a landmine safety curriculum from Save the Children and has been training her peers on the subject ever since. Children refer to Asma'a as "their teacher, their mentor and instructor on mine risks," said the Yemen Observer. What a role model.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Give Me Shelter

Like 16-year-old Mackenzie Bearup, I found refuge in books as a young kid, wandering for hours a day in the world of words. Unlike Mackenzie, a CNN Hero, I wasn't driven to this place by intense physical pain.

Six years ago, Mackenzie was dancing to "American Idol" when her knee seemed to explode with pain. By the next day, it had swollen to grapefruit size, and within a week it would collapse when she tried to walk.

Doctors diagnosed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, an incurable condition affecting anywhere from 200,000 to 1.2 million people. When meds and other treatments failed to ease Mackenzie's pain, she found that the only thing that distracted her from it was reading.

The experience inspired her to reach out to other kids who were suffering. She began collecting books for a residential treatment center, near her Georgia home, for severely abused children. With a goal of 300 books, she gathered 3,000 -- and a passion was born.

Mackenzie has gone on to collect more than 38,000 books to date for homeless and abused children in six states. With her mom's help, she launched a nonprofit organization, Sheltering Books, in 2009.

That's a story worth a book of its own.

(ps Thanks to Generation Cures, via Twitter, for the heads-up on Mackenzie)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fair Play

Save the Children's k2kUSA is a new campaign aimed at helping kids advocate for each other, with a goal of ensuring "a fair chance in life for every kid in America." The k2kUSA council includes notable teens/tweens like Nat & Alex Wolff ("The Naked Brothers Band") and Gov's son Patrick Schwarzenegger.

Taking aim at child poverty, the campaign's website features an ultra-brief "fairness quiz" for kids. Through a partnership with Scholastic Book Clubs, a new book is automatically sent to a child in need each time the quiz is completed. The goal is 90,000 books, so get your kiddos to the keyboard, stat!