2017 seemed like a banner year for bad news, didn’t it?
Tragedies, disasters, anger, violence – the headlines were so scary and depressing, and after a while they started to seep into me. I started to feel scared, and depressed. You can only hear so many awful stories before you begin to believe that the whole thing is pretty hopeless. People are awful, the world is a mess, we’re all doomed. It’s tempting to just turn off the news, close your doors, hug your kids and bury your head in the sand.
The thing is, that’s not the whole story. The headlines may be bad, but in reality there are so many good people out there, people of all ages and backgrounds, doing so many wonderful things. Incredible, inspiring, generous things. They are building communities and lifting others; they are finding the cracks and filling them. And when you hear those kinds of stories, you can’t help but feel full of hope, and full of the desire to be a part of something good. What I’ve slowly learned over the past year is that there is plenty of great news out there if you look for it. The five stories below from 2017 are proof of that.
If these kids are any indication, the future is looking pretty bright.
5th grader invents device to prevent hot car infant deaths
Bishop Curry is a 10-year-old inventor. He’s come up with kid-friendly gadgets like a home-made catapult and ping pong ball cannon, but the invention that went viral in 2017 has the potential to save lives. After hearing the story of a local baby who died after being left in a hot car, Bishop invented Oasis, a device that could help prevent such a tragedy. The Oasis is attached to the infant’s car seat and send an alert to parents when it detects that the temperature in the vehicle is dangerously high; it also has a fan that will blow cool air onto the child while waiting for help to arrive. The 5th-grader is raising money to manufacture the device; his GoFundMe campaign has raised $50,000 since January.
Girl fundraises to pay off school’s hot lunch debt
Fidget spinners were definitely this year’s hot toy craze, and savvy 11-year-old Lexi Bergeron jumped on the trend in a big way. The Michigan fourth grader made her own fidget toys, selling them to friends and classmates for less than a dollar. Lexi didn’t pocket her earnings, though. Instead, she used them to pay off her school’s $188 hot lunch debt. When a local news outlet picked up the story, Lexi received over $2,000 in donations – enough to cover the lunch debt for the entire school district.
16-year-old gets accepted to Harvard – and his classmates go crazy
With an acceptance rate of just over 5 percent, getting into Harvard University is a pretty big deal. So when 16-year-old Ayrton Little of Louisiana learned that he’ll be going to the ivy league school, his classmates were understandably very excited for him. It’s hard not to smile when you see them erupt with pure joy when he received the good news in the video below. Ayrton isn’t the only member of the family who has big plans for the future – his brother Alex also learned that he’s been accepted to Stanford. The boys give credit for their academic success to their mom, who raised them on her own. They also say that their youngest brother, who died after suffering an asthma attack five years ago, is their inspiration. The brothers have a goal to open nonprofits to help other students. “Kids that grow up like me,” says Ayrton. “With a love of learning, but they may not have the resources to be able to go to Harvard or Stanford.”
Third grader tackles homelessness in Chicago
At all of 9 years old, Jahkil Jackson is already an experienced public speaker. The grade schooler from Chicago is the tiny force behind Project I Am, a campaign aimed at helping the homeless is his community. In 2017, Jakhil put together and distributed over 3,000 “blessings bags,” filled with toiletries, socks and snacks, to those in need and has enlisted classmates, friends and neighbors to help. The recipient of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes now regularly speaks to other kids to encourage them to step up and get involved.
High school ‘lunch club’ means no kid eats alone
Lunch hour can be a tough time for some kids. Outside of the classroom, students without a social circle can feel isolated and alone. Florida teen Denis Estimon has plenty of friends, but set out to do something good for classmates who might feel a little left out. Members of the We Dine Together club make the rounds at lunch to try to connect with peers who are on their own. The project has been such a success that it’s set to be launched in 200 high schools across the country in 2018. Denis, who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti with his family when he was in the first grade, explains, “To me it’s like, if we don’t try to go make that change, who’s going to do it?”
Well said. Here’s to making that change, and to finding the good, in 2018.
Image via iStock