Children are changing the philanthropic landscape. They're bringing new causes to the fore and reimagining charitable giving. Issues such as health care, environment, sustainability and education are considered "in" with the charitable young.
The We organization, a children's charity founded in 1995, has recognized this paradigm shift. Having raised more than $45-million across Canada, the United States and Britain for local and global causes, it provides people with tools to create positive change at home and around the world. Millions have joined their ranks: educators, business leaders, prominent Canadians and, perhaps most significantly, young people.
To celebrate, We has joined forces with Prince's Charities Canada to create the annual Prince's Youth Service Awards to encourage young Canadians aged 5 to 18 to realize their potential, pursue their dreams and lead their communities through service and action both at home and around the world. The awards recognize achievements in four categories: local community development, global action, social entrepreneurship and sustainability.
"The Prince's Youth Service Award was in response to a request from His Royal Highness [the Prince of Wales] to build a deeper and enduring connection with Canadian youth," says Matthew Rowe, PCC vice-president.
"They have a special capacity to be change agents; they can explore bold ideas, draw outside the lines and be role models for their peers. We engaged with We to honour youth doing extraordinary things in their communities. This year, the four winners were chosen because they are advocates for positive change locally, globally and beyond."
We are community leaders
Cheyenne Hardy, 16
"To me, being a 'community leader' is being a person who sees there are issues in the community and sets out to be the change that the community needs," says Cheyenne Hardy, winner of the award, which recognizes those taking positive local action.
As a teenager growing up in Dartmouth, Ms. Hardy felt her community had a negative stigma associated with it, and became tired of hearing the oft-repeated phrase: "Nothing good ever comes out of Dartmouth." Deciding to flip the script, she enlisted the help of local businesses and organizations to create a YouTube video.
Visiting places like the local food bank, the Boys and Girls Club and different community centres, Ms. Hardy set out to show people "all the goodness in my community, and all the caring, generous and loving people who live in Dartmouth North."
We are global leaders
Joshua Cochrane, 11
When Joshua Cochrane was four years old, he didn't understand what the word "stigma" meant; he did, however, feel the teasing of strangers when it came to his autism symptoms.
"I asked my mom why people were always staring at me and asking questions, and she told me it was just because they didn't know much about autism and the stigma surrounding it," Joshua says. "I wanted to help end the stigma, so I started attending the World Autism Festival each year and fundraising across the world to bring more awareness to the condition."
By the age of eight, Joshua had raised more than $300,000 for various organizations and continues to spread his message.
His advice to anyone looking to facilitate change? "Have the courage to stand up for what you believe in and be proud of who you are and what you want to become."
I believe the word 'disability' should drop the 'dis,' because everyone truly has positive abilities they can then share with the world."
We are social innovators
Lindsay Cummings, 12
Changing the world starts when you think outside of the box. Lindsay Cummings uses innovative solutions to tackle social problems.
For years, Lindsay knew she wanted to raise money for a cause, and after visiting Ecuador for a youth volunteer trip, the idea of making her own soap came to mind. Her "Soap for Hope" proceeds go to different global women's entrepreneurial workshops and girls' clubs in Ecuador, Kenya and beyond.
"Doing good in the world isn't as hard as people may think," Lindsay says. "You don't have to win the Nobel Peace Prize to change the world. It starts with setting a good example for others – that's all it takes to fuel change."
We are agents of sustainability
Donovan Faraoni, 16
Donovan Faraoni was chosen for this award because of his dedication to taking charge of the planet's future. Each year, he participates in the Estrie, Que., regional science fair where he presents creative solutions on car pollution, solar power and our ever-growing demand for energy.
Donovan has made non-toxic, photo-electro-chemical solar cells from materials found in everyday items such as toothpaste and blackberries to present at the Super Expo-sciences provincial finals. He has also organized a Young Citizen's Conference Workshop on Energy of the Future at his school. His findings were reported to the heads of state in Europe. "To me, sustainability means making meaningful decisions and ethical choices in our families, social lives, schools and businesses that will maintain healthy air, water and land for future generations."