Taking a break from national and personal anxiety, ALPF and wmtc bring you nine-year-old activist Hannah Taylor. Hannah's compassion for the homeless people that she saw on the streets of her native Winnipeg led her to start saving her own money to donate.
Hannah turned that experience first into a home and classroom project, teaching her three siblings and her schoolmates about the most underprivileged people in their community.Hannah also does public speaking - for example, in front of 16,000 people at the opening of Winnipeg's MTS Centre - to urge Canadians to find a better way to care for its homeless population. The Ladybug Foundation, a non-profit organization, has raised more than $500,000 using a variety of creative campaigns - all of which Hannah has initiated. She also volunteers at homeless shelters and missions.
Then she started collecting spare coins in old baby-food jars, gaily painted red and black like good-luck ladybugs.
Those jars, to "make change" for the homeless, were the start of the Ladybug Foundation, which raises money for charities that help homeless people.
Yesterday Hannah became the youngest person ever to address The Empire Club, a "captains of industry" organization formed in 1903. Hannah adds her name to a list of past speakers that includes every Canadian Prime Minister, six US Presidents, Winston Churchill and Indira Ghandi. News stories here and here, including a photo of Hannah standing on a box to be seen above the podium.
Watch for her name in the future. We'll be hearing from Hannah Taylor for a long time.
Hannah Taylor reminded me of another young activist I know. Rasha Kawar, a fourth-grader from Texas, is trying to get US airlines to provide a wheelchair-accessible restroom on designated flights. That is, she's trying to get them to obey the law.
After a frustrating and humiliating experience on a flight to Israel, Rasha asked her mother, "What are we going to do about this?"
When she got home, Rasha wrote a letter to President Bush asking him the same question. She said, "Can I please meet with you on the weekend? Or maybe if you are free one day you can come here, because we really have to talk."Um, I'm quoting myself: here's my story about Rasha, written for other wheelchair-using kids.
Rasha received a letter from the president saying he is "proud to be her friend" and photographs of his wife and dogs. Her mom said Rasha should be happy to receive a reply -- after all, Mr. Bush is a busy man. Rasha wasn't buying it. "I didn't write to him to be his friend. I have a hundred good friends. I wanted him to solve this problem, and he didn't."
Rasha's quest may seem frivolous to you, or presumptive, or needlessly interfering with business. Imagine if you took long-distance flights several times a year - or ever, for that matter - and you couldn't use a rest room on the plane. At one time, curb cuts, chair lifts and wheelchair-accessible public restrooms were considered frivolous, wasteful and unnecessary. Now they are part of everyday life; because of them, millions of people can function more fully in the world - go to school and work, and contribute to society. This is really no different.
You can read Rasha's statement and, if you want, sign her petition. I'll email her this post to see how the project has advanced.
More cool kids here.