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15 Incredible Kids Who Stepped Up in 2020

While COVID-19 has rained on a lot of our parades, it hasn’t dampened the spirits of these 15 kids. Whether it be singing a song of encouragement, sewing masks for first-responders or even creating videos, these kids are doing good deeds and helping others, showing us how they can make a difference in our world if given a chance. Keep reading to learn more about these young community leaders.

photo: Alex and Ben Joel/Intutorly

Alex and Ben Joel Started an Online Tutoring Service for Kids

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools online, Alex and Ben Joel were concerned by the articles they read about potential learning losses due to distance learning. So they did something about it. Their motto is simple: Bridging the educational divide with free, online, one-on-one tutoring for elementary school students. We caught up with the dynamic duo to find out more about their service, what inspired it, and how Intutorly is helping change the world, one kid at a time.

photo: Elissa Rogers/Becky Chapman

Curtis Rogers Created His Own Prom

Talk about special. Curtis Rogers, a seven-year-old boy, felt bad that his babysitter would not be able to attend her prom due to the coronavirus, so he decided to create one himself including a “promposal” banner that read, “Mini-Prom is not today, but will you join me on Monday?” Of course, Rachel Chapman said yes. “I decided that we should just do this now because the coronavirus has people down in the dumps,” the boy told CBS News.

He dressed in a suit and bow tie, and she wore an elegant gown, and they stood six feet away from each other with the help of a pool noodle. The table was decorated with fresh flowers and a meal of Chick-fil-A, and smoothies were served followed by dancing. He’s a keeper.

Avi Made a Website

Back in December, 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann decided to use his computer knowledge and create a website that tracks the coronavirus before the virus had even left China. The NCOV2019 website contains information on global and local stats, a preparation guide, a question and answer section and a map showing the outbreaks of the virus. It’s pretty incredible.

“I noticed there was so much misinformation,” Schiffmann told the Mercer Island Reporter. “It was so hard to just get clear and concise data. So I thought, ‘Well, I can do better than the government,’ so I just made it. I reached out to news agencies, just for fun. None of them replied. And now they’re coming back to me, which I find so funny.”

photo: Lucy’s Love Blankets Facebook Page

Lucy Made Blankets (& Masks)

Over in Tennesse, Veronica Blaylock taught her daughter Lucy how to sew when she was just eight-years-old. Together, they started making flannel “love blankets” for other kids each with a signature Lucy heart sewn in. The blankets have been shipped to 13 countries and given to children who have been bullied, have been fighting cancer, have lost a loved one, etc.

Lucy is 11-years-old now and busier than ever with Lucy’s Love Blankets, but things have changed a bit this year. “Because of COVID-19, we decided to put the love blankets aside for a minute and start making masks,” Lucy told The Tennessean. Together, Lucy and her mom have sewn and given away hundreds of masks to healthcare workers. In fact, on May 26, Lucy had sewn her 1100th mask!

Sydney Made a Video Series

Sydney Dilling’s reaction to COVID-19 wasn’t much different from other 10-year-olds. She became nervous and uneasy. Knowing that she wasn’t the only one with these types of feelings, she and her mother decided to do something about it. Together, they wrote, recorded and even animated four short videos entitled, “Kids Coping with COVID-19” right in their own living room. They can be found on YouTube.

“I hope our animations can help kids everywhere,” says Sydney on episode three of the series. She also requests that local schools donate surplus supplies too since they aren’t using them. “It never hurts to ask!” Sydney told Good News Network.

photo: courtesy Carlos Mercado

Dominic Gave Out Food

In New Jersey, 12-year-old Dominic Mercado decided to forgo the usual birthday festivities this year and instead, he asked for boxes of pasta and jars of spaghetti sauce for the local food kitchen in his hometown. Spirit & Truth Ministries told ABC 7 TV that his donation was by far the largest they’ve seen in years. It took five SUVs just to haul of all of the food away. His effort even caught the attention of New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy. Over 100 people drove to Dominic’s home to deliver the goods.

“They might already have food for this week and next week, so these items won’t expire for a while. (The food) won’t perish for a while,” Dominic said.

Layla Sang to Her Teacher

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest impact. Take, for instance, nine-year-old Laya DeMayo from Long Valley, NJ. She heard that her teacher’s favorite song was “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey and decided to give Mr. Dauchert his own private concert on Ukelele.

“It meant more than any gift that I have every unwrapped in my life,” Dauchert told ABC 7 News. “And just thinking that during these challenging times, ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ how appropriate is that?”

“I hope that during this hard time that we are going through right now, I hope that this song makes everyone a little more,” says DeMayo.

photo: Scrunchies by Mar Facebook Page

Marley Made Masks

In Seattle, young entrepreneurs 13-year-old Marley and 16-year-old Zoe Macris began their Scrunchies By Mar business in March of 2019. Then COVID-19 hit, and the girls decided that they would need to pivot a bit. They put aside their scrunchies and made room to sew face masks for nurses, firefighters, the police and others on the frontlines for free using donations given to them from others. They made 300 masks in just the first few days of operation.

Working together isn’t always for the pair. “We’re sisters, it’s not always the best thing in the world but we make it work, Zoe Told Seattle Refined recently. “We have our moments, but for the most part we really get along.” And Marley agrees, saying, “It feels good knowing that you’re giving back to the community.”

photo: courtesy Chelsea’s Charity

Chelsea Gave Out Art Supplies

According to her mom, Chelsea Phaire has been begging her to start her own charity since she was seven years old. This year when she turned 10, she got her wish. When the girl from Danbury, Connecticut sent invites for her friends to attend her birthday party, she requested that they bring art supplies so that she could donate them to others. Today, Chelsea’s Charity has sent over 1,500 art kits to homeless shelters and foster care homes to give these kids a little boost. Contained in sturdy plastic boxes, these kits contain markers, crayons, colored pencils, paper, coloring books and gel pens.

“I feel good inside knowing how happy they are when they get their art kits,” Chelsea told CNN. “I have definitely grown as a person because of this. Now my dream is to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art. Who knows, maybe if we do that and then our kids do that, we’ll have world peace!”

Stephen Made a Hand-Washing Station

Even though his village, Mukwa, in Bungoma County, Kenya, hasn’t seen a single case of COVID-19, nine-year-old Stephen still wanted to help. He designed a hand-washing machine that tips water from a bucket with the use of a foot pedal to avoid touching surfaces to help reduce infections. Stephen told BBC he came up with the idea after learning about preventing infection on the TV. “I now have two machines, and I want to make more,” he says. On June 1st, he was Presidential Order of Service, Uzalendo (Patriotic) Award. Stephen says he wants to be an engineer when he grows up, and his father says the county governor has promised him a scholarship. 

photo: Duck Chick Facebook Page

Brianna and Ashley Made Keychains

Two years ago, Brianna and Ashley Wong received a catalog during Christmas time that would donate ducks and chickens to people in need in other countries, and that really struck a chord with the girls.

“Since we didn’t have enough money from our piggy banks, we decided to earn money by making bracelets and other things,” says nine-year-old Brianna, who started the company Duck + Chick with her six-year-old sister. “We use part of the money we make to donate to different organizations. So far we have donated to Heifer International, World Vision [and] Compassion.”

When COVID-19 hit, the East Bay kids switched gears and starting making keychains to raise money for their local No Kid Hungry program while their local schools are closed. The girls recently posted a video on their Facebook page showing other kids how to make leather nametags.

Christian Made Some Phone Calls

After noticing the effects of COVID-19 had on his community, 12-year-old Christian Willis decided that he wasn’t just going to sit back and watch. He was going to make a change.

“He independently ran everything himself, and I was just like really proud of him,” his mother Shante told WTOP News. “To him, it’s like, a loaf of bread can get them sandwiches for a week. I think it made him realize that he is making a difference.”

Christian simply picked up the phone and began calling friends and family asking them for donations for the House of Mercy in Manassas, VA. Those calls paid off as he was able to collect $900 for the cause.

photo: Patrick Bonner Facebook Page

Stella Wrote a Novel

The tale begins like this … before COVID-19, Patrick Bonner would make up bedtime stories for his daughter Stella to help her get to sleep. After adding on “chapters” to this never-ending story, the ten-year-old suggested that they write down their thoughts on paper. When they got quarantined together, the two got serious creating “Darien the Librarian.” The 50,000-word book is about a girl who can magically jump in and out of books.

“My dad wanted to publish, it but I didn’t want to,” Stella told WCVB5 News. “I wanted to make a fundraiser about it because we already have all the money we need. What would we do with the extra? Some people can’t put food on the table.” The initial goal was to make $500 that they could give to Feeding America. As of May 26, Stella’s book had raised over $26,000 on their Facebook page.

—Jeff Totey



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The post 15 Incredible Kids Who Stepped Up in 2020 appeared first on Red Tricycle.

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What’s Wrong With the Education System? And How Do We Fix It?

Photo: 1. Maren Winter 2. biker3

When any system grows too big, it begins to break down. This is evidenced all around us. The education system, various systems of religion, the healthcare system, the justice system, the banking system, the insurance system – all are too big to operate efficiently or effectively. Entropy and inertia win.

Let’s take the education system, because it’s the one I know best. I have taught at the college level, worked on magazines for teachers at all levels, and written and edited scripts for training videos intended to help school staff members from grades K through college.

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Where to begin? Let’s start with curriculum. There is currently a great debate about what America’s children will learn. The pressure on textbook publishers to deliver something that can be approved by one or more states increases every day. Texas and California, the largest textbook buyers, have an outsized influence on what the rest of the nation’s school children will learn.

One major problem is that no one can agree on what the nation’s children should learn. Any attempt to standardize curriculum is shouted down from various directions. (Can you say “Common Core”?) Should we present a positive history of our country or one that discusses its missteps and flaws? Should we teach the facts of science or “teach the controversy.” (Or both?) Should we teach using whole language or phonics? Should we teach computer programming to everyone or just a few? Should we teach civics at all and if so from what perspective – left, center, middle, all of the above? (When I was in high school I took a course called Comparative Political Isms. Such a course could likely not be taught today in an American high school, but if it were at least citizens would understand the difference between fascism and socialism.)

Various attempts have been made to rectify these problems, but all they seem to lead to are more and more standardized tests. The teachers of necessity teach children what will appear on the test – what answers they should fill into the little bubbles and how to construct a three-paragraph essay.

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Other subjects are much harder to test. Reading comprehension is nearly impossible when stories must be so bland that any student anywhere with any background can understand every word of the story. Try writing a story like that (I have) and you’ll end up with nonsense – and not the good, Lewis Carroll kind.

While larger systems are seldom the answer – indeed they are usually the problem – there is a lot to be said for standardized curriculum rather than standardized tests. In order for students to enter higher education and even business on a level playing field, it helps if all the graduates have a grasp of the same basic information. Since every state seems to have its own take on history, health, civics – even math and science – students are coming out of high school with wildly different ideas and significant gaps in their learning. When they get to college there’s no telling whether they will have an understanding of geology or American history or how to spot fallacies in an argument.

If states and local communities want to add to a basic curriculum, by exploring the history of their particular state or community, that’s just fine. Although with the way people move around from job to job these days, it seems a little odd that a child must learn about the history of Ohio when he or she is going to be living in Alaska.

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Another worrying aspect of today’s schools is their switch from the agricultural model to the business model. It has for quite a while been evident that the agricultural model is no longer effective for schools. The business model is better in the respect as it allows for year-round schools and longer school days to mimic the environment that students will enter after they leave school.

However, there is more to life than business. Along the way art, music, physical education, and such frivolous amenities have been neglected dropped or ignored. Even recess for elementary students has become a casualty of the work ethic.

Entrepreneurship classes and STEM teaching are all very well, but not all students are going to become business and scientific leaders. The country also needs janitors, fry cooks, receptionists, and convalescent home caregivers who can balance a checkbook, read a newspaper, and understand our system of government. And where will we find the artists, the poets, the musicians, the writers, sculptors, woodworkers, and the craftspeople who provide us unique and spirit-uplifting experiences that can be found in no cubicle farm?

At this point you may well ask whether I have any solutions to offer. I have a few.

Read Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities. It’s every bit as true today as it was in 1991, when it was written. Then after you’ve read it, work to change the ridiculous system of funding K-12 education. Have a little faith in teachers. English teachers do not assign readings in hopes of changing a child’s religion or traumatizing them with challenging topics. Teachers cannot be expected to give everyone As. They are not the problem. Bad teachers are often the result of a flawed system and good teachers often leave the field, frustrated and disheartened. And they don’t make great money, despite what you may have heard. Remember that athletics, while important, are not the reason schools exist. Getting into a powerhouse college with an exceptional sports record is not the best preparation for life. Even pro athletes need to be able to do something else after their sports careers are over. Spend money on school infrastructure, including computers, up-to-date textbooks, and adequate supplies. No money? See point 1, above. Make sure children are ready to learn. Educational preschool programs and affordable or free breakfasts and lunches will go a long way. No money? See point 1, above.

Our present system of education is too complicated, with every state, county, district, and city having a say about funding, curriculum, expenditures, and more. Simplify governance, establish a basic curriculum, and revamp the funding system and you will still have a large system, but a streamlined one better able to meet the needs of students.

Even if you don’t agree with one – or all – of the above points, please take them as intended: food for thought and debate. After all, thought and debate are important skills, too.

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