“If one person can help inspire two other people and those two people can inspire two other people, then you’re creating a chain reaction that can actually make a difference in the world.” said 17-year old Grace Li, a Houston area student in Indianapolis Friday to accept her 2012 Power of Children Award presented by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Grace, and the non-profit organization she founded, We Care Act, moved quickly to begin helping schools on the East Coast recover from Hurricane Sandy. “We plan to work with a couple of schools in New York City by sending them items. For example, we will probably send cookies to children since they missed Halloween. That is a really big deal for kids.” This is not the first time. Grace has rushed to help young natural disaster victims worldwide for several years despite her young age.
She isn’t the only teenager making a difference. Other extraordinary Power of Children winners help military veterans find employment, prevent teens from committing suicide, and provide resources for thousands of orphans.
Listed in alphabetical order by name are the students and their projects.
- Timothy Balz, stunned by the realization that some classmates could not afford electric wheelchairs, founded Freedom Chairs of Indiana to provide electric and manual wheelchairs for the disabled. ( Mooresville, Indiana, Plainfield High School)
- Only 14 years old and not even old enough for a work permit, Nicholas Clifford, through his brainchild Employment Barrier Buster Project, has helped 56 military veterans and counting, find jobs.( Indianapolis, Indiana, St. Thomas Aquinas School)
- Able to overcome suicide thoughts, high school senior Sarah Wood began a suicide education and resource program for middle school students. She has connected with more than 1,300 students. (Indianapolis, Indiana Lawrence North High School)
- Neha Gupta has seen first-hand how orphans can turn to a life of crime for survival (here in the U.S. and in India). The high school junior started Empower Orphans which has positively impacted more than 15,000 children locally and abroad. It provides education, medical and creature comfort resources to orphans. (Yardley, Pennsylvania, Pennsbury High School)
- Since 2008, when Grace Li learned of the horror of 90,000 lives lost during an earthquake in China, she has been helping young victims of natural disasters worldwide. The We Care Act, which Li founded, has expanded to raise funds for special education students, cancer patients and homeless children. (Manvel, Texas, Glenda Dawson High School)
The award is a natural extension of The Power of Children: Making a Difference exhibit, which takes visitors on a journey through the profoundly difficult lives of 20th century young heroes Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White.
“It warms our hearts and gives us great satisfaction to help these young people tell their tremendous stories of social consciousness and giving,” says Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “They serve as an inspiration to us all that the world can be changed for the better with education and the innovation of those who care enough to make a difference.”
Each recipient of the Power of Children award will receive a $2,000 grant to continue his or her extraordinary work. A four-year post-secondary scholarship to a participating institution of higher learning will also be offered to each student, and they will be recognized in the museum’s The Power of Children exhibit.
Images of the winners and the ceremony available upon request.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. For more information about The Children's Museum, visit www.childrensmuseum.org, follow us on Twitter @TCMIndy, Facebook.com/childrensmuseum and YouTube.