EXPLORE MORE: GENERATION FIX
Joshua Marcus, 14, CEO of Sack It To You!, raised a quarter of a million dollars to buy school supplies and backpacks for needy students in Boca Raton, Florida.
High schooler Hannah Jukovsky, concerned that the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System wasted valuable classroom time and distracted from more serious problems in education, risked her diploma to boycott the test.
Gabriella Contreras, outraged about frequent fights at Tucson High School across the street from her elementary school, organized pickets at lunchtime every day for a year to stop the violence.
Kirsten Wright, 14, of Twin Falls, Idaho, ran a two-day seminar on self-defense to provide girls her age with information and skills they need to protect themselves.
Zachary Ebers, 14, created Breakfast Bonanza - and collected more than 5,000 boxes of cereal for food pantries in St. Louis.
Dustin Hill, 14, battled cancer while growing an organic garden to feed the hungry. He started a group called PlanIt Kids, which tends the garden and harvests fresh fruits and vegetables from U-Pick farms to feed the hungry in Portland, Oregon.
Teens Lacy Jones, Kate Klinkerman, and Barbara Brown started Don't Be Crude, an oil-recycling program in rural Texas that has kept more than 30,000 gallons of oil from seeping into the groundwater.
When she was 16, Ann Lai invented a sensor to monitor sulfur dioxide, the most damaging component in acid rain. The sensor is patent pending and could be used in thousands of factories across the country.
April Mathews (right), whose family lost their home when she was 10, started a support program with Kerri Stephen for homeless kids called AfterShare Kids.
Sixth grader Shifra Mincer overcame extreme shyness to volunteer to mend clothing and bags for homeless people in New York City.
Ryan Tripp, 15, of Parowan, Utah, shattered two world records by riding his lawnmower across the country and then mowing the lawns of all 50 state capitols - all to raise awareness of organ donation.
Kristel Rose Paçana Fritz convinced dozens of high school kids in San Jose, California, to donate their hair to Locks of Love to make wigs for children with medical hair loss.
Charlie King, Jr. and Davon King sued Eastpointe, Michigan, to prevent police from unfairly stopping African-American kids riding their bikes through a predominantly white Detroit suburb.
Sol Kelley-Jones, 14, of Madison, Wisconsin, advocates for equal rights for all people by testifying before the state legislature, city council and school board and educating other kids about discrimination through school surveys, presentations, and plays.
Jason Dean Crowe, of Newburg, Indiana, inspired by a cello player who braved sniper fire in Bosnia to play his music in the crater of a bombing site, commissioned an international peace and harmony statue. Kid "Statue Ambassadors" are raising money for the statue by throwing public parties across the country called Harmony in the Park.
Featured Generation Fixers
Where Generation Fix Fits In
As a magazine columnist and book author, Elizabeth Rusch has spent years interviewing kids between the ages of 6-18. The media portrays this group as selfish, undisciplined, cynical, and apathetic. In stark contrast, Rusch has found the younger generation to be notably empathetic, engaged, energetic, and hopeful. To describe this phenomenon, Rusch coined the term “Generation Fix.” Gen Fixers, she found, care deeply about other people and have already begun to attack problems in the world with remarkable passion, freshness, and commitment. Gen Fixers’ drive to make the world a better, safer place has been heightened by the events of September 11.
Generations at a Glance
Evidence of Generation Fix
An overwhelming majority (93 percent) of America’s 60 million young people believe they can make a difference in their community (Do Something Young People’s Involvement Survey/Princeton Survey Research, 1998)
60 percent of teenagers volunteer compared with 50 percent of adults (Independent Sector/Gallup 1996)
Teens rank volunteering, along with the environment and eating healthy, as the top three activities they consider “cool.” (Teenage Marketing and Lifestyle Study, 1998)
Every student Rusch interviewed responded passionately and creatively when asked for solutions to world problems. Anyone can confirm this phenomenon.
Key Influences on Generation Fix
Home Life: Gen Fixers have been raised by optimistic Boomer parents who run democratic families where kids’ ideas are valued.
School Lessons: Service-learning, in which schools offer community-service projects linked to academics, has swept the country. The number of students involved in service-related school projects has increased 1,400 percent from 900,000 to 12.6 million in fifteen years. (U.S. Department of Education)
Shrinking Globe: With the growth of global telecommunications and the Internet, world problems seem closer to home — but so is information that helps kids create solutions.
Note: Generation Fix published roughly 20 years ago. If the contact information is out of date, please Google the organization.
People in many organizations are ready to help you make your solution happen. These groups are easy to contact, especially if you know what to request. The descriptions below tell you exactly how an organization can help you and the best way to contact them. If you have access to the web, that's a great place to start -- most have great websites packed with information and inspiration.
Join a local 4-H club to use your head, heart, hands, and health for the good of your community. You can join a livestock club that raises turkeys for the hungry or a sewing club that makes hats and scarves for the homeless. To join a local club, find your county in the government pages of the phone book. Under "Extension" services, you'll find 4-H listed. (If there is no separate listing for 4-H, call the main Extension number.) A 4-H agent will send you an application and match you with a club. New members are invited to create their own projects if existing clubs don't suit them.
Join 2.7 million Girl Scouts in their efforts to make their communities stronger. All Girl Scouts do community service, ranging from cooking homeless breakfasts to cleaning up a favorite park. To join a troop, call the 800 number to locate your nearest Girl Scout council, or go to the Girl Scout web site and click on "council finder." The fee for joining is $7 a year. Even if you join an established troop, you will have the freedom to decide what you want to accomplish and how to do it.
Where can you call every week for free advice on how to work for changes that you most care about? The Activism 2000 Project. The whole organization is devoted to helping kids speak up and pursue lasting solutions. You can request free materials or call or e-mail describing what you want to do. Activism 2000 will put you in contact with other young people pursuing similar goals, tell you about funding sources, and give tips on how to get press coverage.
Kids Care Clubs
82 Smith Ridge Road
South Salem, NY 10590
Ten years ago, a group of children got together to rake a lawn for an elderly neighbor. A few weeks later, the same kids made 150 bag lunches for a soup kitchen. That was the beginning of Kids Care Clubs, a network of more than 800 clubs in all 50 states - all dedicated to kids showing how much they care by creating volunteer projects. Find a club near your or start you own!
YAR provides small grants to young people to design and carry out service projects that address social problems and contribute to significant community change. Call or e-mail to find a YAR program near you or to learn how to get one started in your community.
1700 N. Moore Street, Suite 2000
Arlington, VA 22209
Youth Venture's mission is to empower young people to create and launch their own enterprises-ranging from tutoring services and virtual radio stations to video festivals and youth diabetes support groups. Youth Venture currently runs programs on the East Coast. But they have also launched the "Virtual Venturer" program, where you are taken step-by-step through the process of successfully developing your own venture.
Youth in Action
At Youth In Action, an interactive web site, you can talk with young people from more than 80 different countries about social issue most important to you. You can also participate in surveys and sign petitions and learn about other lobbying tools.
Do Something has provided more than $1 million to young people to turn their ideas for a better community into action. Read on-line action guides to help you do something about a cause you care about, such as violence, drunk driving, or discrimination. Start a Do Something club in your school.
VOA runs volunteer projects all across the country, working with disabled people, youth, elderly, and homeless people and on health, housing, job training issues and more. To volunteer in a project near you, go to the Location Directory on the web site, or call or e-mail.
Youth Service America is an alliance of more than 200 organizations dedicated to increasing opportunities for you to serve your community, your nation, and the world. Join thousands of kids across the country and the world volunteering on National Youth Service Day and Global Youth Service Day. Type your zip code into the Get Involved section of the web site to find volunteer opportunities near you.
Get your school involved in the service-learning movement, where students learn academic material through service projects. Learn more through the National Youth Leadership Council, a non-profit organization that advocates for service-learning.
Corporation for National Service (CNS)
1201 New York Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20525
Through CNS, the federal government supports volunteering for people of all ages. Learn how school-based service is supported through Learn and Serve America. Search for local volunteer opportunities that welcome kids or teens through VolunteerMatch on the web site.
The organizations listed below can help you make a difference in the seven areas covered in this book: education, violence, hunger, the environment, homelessness, health care, and discrimination. Call, write, or e-mail today!
Sack It To You!
3938 N.W. 53rd Street
Boca Raton, FL 33496
Contact Josh Marcus if you want to set up a Sack It To You! chapter in your town to provide school supplies to needy students.
National Center for Fair and Open Testing
Cambridge, MA 02139
Dedicated to ending abuses, misuses, and flaws of standardized tests, FairTest offers fact sheets and information to help you organize a campaign for fair testing in your school. Check out the web site or call for a kit. FairTest will also put you in touch with other student testing activists around the country.
Power to the Youth wants you to think about what helps you learn best and work to make those changes in your school. Go to the web site for ideas to revolutionize your school and to sign up for weekly e-mailings. Or request a free School Action Guide or the flier called 10 Ways to Rock Your High School.
Education Week/Teacher Magazine
Editorial Projects in Education
6935 Arlington Road
Bethesda, MD 20814-5233
Visit the web site of Education Week and Teacher Magazine for in-depth information on almost every topic in education-from class size and testing to school safety and technology. Go to the hot topic section for the basics and search the archives to learn more.
Need money to get going on a project to improve schools in your community? Apply for a mini-grantfrom one of more than 60 local education funds across the country. These groups also offer advice and materials that can help you make your school better. Call, e-mail or check the web site to find out if there is a local foundation near you.
Parents, teachers, and principals at most schools gather regularly at Parent Teacher Association meetings to discuss how to make their schools better. Many PTAs welcome the ideas of students. PTAs that accept students are some times called Parent Teacher Student Associations. Ask your parent, teacher, or principal if you can go to a PTA meeting or contact the national office to find your local PTA.
Reduce Class Size Now
2888 Ponce de Leon Court
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Many kids interviewed for this book said they think class sizes should be smaller. Join petition signing campaigns, referendums, and lobbying efforts afoot across the country to reduce class size. Look under "State of the States" on the web site to learn about efforts in your state. Or call and someone will tell you whom to contact.
P.O. Box 85256
Attention: Gabriella Contreras
Tucson, AZ 85754
Please write to request information on how to start a Club BADDD chapter to fight violence and drug use in your school.
Teens, Crime and the Community
National Crime Prevention Council
1000 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Nine out of ten kids want to do something about violence in their community but don't know where to begin. TCC shows you through all kinds of projects, from designing billboards on crime, to conducting workshops on date rape, to surveying and cleaning up your neighborhood. TCC believe that teens can take a bite out of crime.
Students Against Violence Everywhere (S.A.V.E.)
Center for the Prevention of School Violence
313 Chapanoke Road, Suite 140
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
Start a violence prevention club in your school. Call for a free manual that describes how to involve kids in conflict management, mediation, and community service.
Use music, dance, drama, negotiation skills, and crime patrols to prevent violence in your neighborhood or school. Find out how through the OJJDP's terrific Youth in Action Bulletins written specifically for kids. Check out "Arts and Performances for Prevention," "Want To Resolve a Dispute? Try Mediation," and "Stand Up and Start a School Crime Watch!" Call, write, or e-mail for the free bulletins or read them on the web.
The Nonviolence Web
Here's the place to link to dozens of state, national and international peace organizations.
Join 2.4 million students who have taken this pledge against gun violence: "I will never bring a gun to school; I will never use a gun to settle a dispute; I will use my influence with my friends to keep them from using guns to settle disputes. My individual choices and actions, when multiplied by those of young people throughout the country, will make a difference. Together, by honoring this pledge, we can reverse the violence and grow up in safety."
Heifer Project International
P.O. Box 808
Little Rock, AR 72203
Give a family a gallon of milk and they have a nutritious drink for one meal. Give the family a cow and you can literally stop that family's hunger forever. That is the idea behind the Heifer Project, which donates farm animals such as cow, pigs, and goats to poor people all over the world. Raise $20 and send a family a chicken, which can provide up to 200 eggs a year. A donation of $120 buys a pig, which can give birth to 20 babies a year, each growing to 200 pounds in six months! The good doesn't stop there. Every family that gets a Heifer Project animal must donate the first offspring to another needy family. So donating one animal feeds hundreds of people.
Use your hands and your heart to organize an Empty Bowls meal to raise money to fight hunger. First, fashion and fire ceramic bowls. Then serve soup in the bowls in exchange for donations to a hunger organization of your choosing. Your guests will keep the bowls to remind them that someone's bowl is always empty. Send $5 with your name and address to receive an information packet, including suggestions on how to plan an Empty Bowls event and a logo to stamp in your bowls. You even get a tiny piece of clay from the original batch used for the first Empty Bowls meal to mix with your clay.
Fast offers an incredible array of free materials to help you teach people about hunger and raise money to feed the hungry. Call, e-mail, write or go to the web site for the free "Activity Handbook," which describes how to throw a hunger banquet, hunger fast, penny competition, calendar sale, art exhibition, or Hoops for Hunger. You can even get free media kits, posters, postcards, and placemats to help publicize your event.
America's Second Harvest
35 E. Wacker Dr., #2000
Chicago, IL 60601
Through a network of more than 200 food banks, America's Second Harvest distributes food to 26 million Americans each year, eight million of them children. To find a food bank near you, call or go to the volunteer section of the web site.
The Hunger Site
Make a free contribution of food to hungry people by simply clicking a button on this web site. Each day you visit the site, sponsors donate one cup of food to the World Food Program, a United Nations agency that distributes food to people in need. Approximately 200 tons of food is donated every week!
Bread for the World is a national Christian organization that lobbies Congress on hunger issues. To learn practical tips for persuading elected officials to make ending hunger a priority, request the free 12-page booklet "What You Can Do to End Hunger." For information on hunger legislation being considered in Congress, check out the Issues and Action section of the web site. That section also gives you a really easy way to send e-mails about hunger to your Congressional representatives.
Kids Can Make a Difference offers a free brochure, web site, and newsletter on hunger-and advice for kids who want to fight hunger in their communities. The free, tri-annual "Kids Newsletter" covers current events in the war on hunger, teaches you about the physical impacts of hunger and starvation, and explores hunger's root cause: poverty. Cruise the web site for an on-line version of the newsletter, a hunger-facts page, and a list of ideas for beginning the war on hunger in your community. Share ideas with other hunger-fighting kids on the Bulletin Board. For advice on your local hunger project, e-mail a description of what you'd like to do and your questions about how to do it. Kids Can Make a Difference wants you to act locally: don't think of hunger worldwide, think of it in your own community.
Clean up and protect your favorite stream. Request the free brochure, "The Five Steps to Stream Adoption," or look on the web site under "Streamkeeper Tools." The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation will help you to write a plan of action complete with short- and long-term goals for keeping your stream clean. Adopting a stream isn't easy-you'll need to get everyone in the watershed involved. But the rewards to you and the ecosystem can be great!
Send the president, members of congress and the media your thoughts on environmental issues. Go to "Take Action" on the web site to learn what environmental issues your lawmakers are debating - then e-mail them your ideas.
Lead local environmental campaigns created by kids for kids. Go to the "Resource" section of the web site to learn how to help make your community more bike-friendly. Call or e-mail to get involved in the latest campaign.
Get your facts here! While not specifically designed for kids, the NRDC web site has amazing, easy-to-read information on clean air and water, energy, global warming, fish and wildlife, and other environmental topics. Check out the stunning photos, fascinating facts, and practical ideas on how to defend our natural resources.
Earth Day Network
811 First Avenue, Suite 454
Seattle, WA 98104
Every year on April 22nd, millions of people-young and old-celebrate the Earth and raise awareness of environmental issues through Earth Day activities. In 2001, students in Los Angeles formed a massive aerial message telling the world that it's time to "Go Solar." Join an Earth Day event in your area or throw your own. Sign up for a witty daily or weekly e-mail newsletter called Grist.
Habitat volunteers have built more than 100,000 houses in more than 79 countries, including 30,000 in the United States. Though youth under the age of 16 are not allowed to work on construction sites because of child labor laws, Habitat offers other ways for you to get involved. You can build window boxes, bird houses or picnic tables as a housewarming gift or fund-raiser, organize and serve meals to builders-even paint doors and baseboards off site. Contact Habitat to find which of its 1,900 affiliates is nearest you.
NCH has an ambitious mission: To end homelessness. Go to the web site to educate yourself about homelessness and to join one of their campaigns, such as the Kids' Day on Capitol Hill. The Kids' Corner section of the web site lists surprising facts about homelessness and describes what kids around the country are doing to stop homelessness.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
As the federal agency responsible for housing, HUD offers information and ideas on how to help the homeless. Check out the Kids Can Help the Homeless section of the web site. Interested in volunteering at a shelter? Type your zip code, state, or city and state into the web site to get a list of shelters near you.
YouthBuild aims to solve three problems at once: unemployment, homelessness, and urban decay by training unemployed young people to renovate rundown government-owned buildings to house the homeless. Since 1993, YouthBuild students have built or reconstructed more than 7,000 units of affordable housing. Call, e-mail or go to the web site to find out how you can support the YouthBuild Coalition.
NSCAHH is the largest student network fighting hunger and homelessness in the country, with more than 600 chapters on college campuses in 45 states. Even if you are not in college yet, students at a local chapter can help you get involved. Call or check the web site to find one near you.
Call or check out the web site for NAEH's great fact sheets for kids, written specially for middle and high school students. You can also call with specific questions about homelessness and how you can help.
Locks of Love
1640 S. Congress Ave., Suite 104
Palm Springs, FL 33461
Donate your hair to make a wig for a child with medical hair loss. Donated hair must be at least 10 inches long, free from hair die or perms or styling products, and clean and dry. The hair should be bundled in a ponytail or braid, placed in a plastic bag and mailed in a padded envelop with your name and address to Locks of Love. If you want to run a hair drive, call or go to the web site to register.
By becoming an organ donor you can save up to eight lives and improve the lives of 50 more. Learn about organ and tissue donation and how to become a donor. Call or e-mail for a free brochure or get everything you need on the web site.
Forty percent of Red Cross volunteers are young people under the age of 24. The Red Cross trains young people in all areas of disaster services, including community disaster education, local disaster preparation, and disaster response through Red Cross disaster action teams and youth disaster corps. On the web, go to the Youth section. Or call to find out how to get involved.
World Health Organization (WHO)
Though not written specifically for young people, the World Health Organization's summaries of health topics A to Z, found on the web site, are an incredible source of information on health issues from asthma and air quality to vaccinations.
Jump Rope for Heart
Hoops for Heart
American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231
Jump rope or play basketball for your own fitness and to raise money for the American Heart Association. Call or visit the web site to find participating schools or to organize an event at your school.
Arrest the Racism: Racial Profiling in America
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Read real stories about racial profiling and studies on how common it is and learn about current court cases and legislation at the ACLU's website. If you believe you have been stopped by police because of your race, report it to the ACLU. You can also send a fax to your members of Congress through the site.
The Cello Cries On
P.O. Box 441
Newburgh, IN 47629
For more information about Jason Crowe's Children's International Peace-&-Harmony Statue, Harmony in the Park, and YOUth for Harmony in ACTion, check out his web site or send him an e-mail.
Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere
3543 18th Street, Number 1
San Francisco, CA 94110
COLAGE offers support to the eight million sons and daughters of gay and lesbian parents in the United States. Log-on to the web site to find a COLAGE chapter near you, for volunteer opportunities, statistics-even answers to questions about having gay or lesbian parents.
ShiNE is a national organization that uses art, music, technology and sports to engage and empower young people to take a stand, use their voices and impact their world. In addition to helping you start a local club, ShiNE offers grant money to young people who want to promote social harmony in their schools and communities.
P.O. Box 64
Greencastle, PA 17225
This group strives to educate young people about racism through music and entertainment. Visit the web site to learn how to start an anti-racist, unity or multicultural club, how to host a benefit concert to raise money for an anti-racist project in your community, or how to set up a table at a concert someone else throws.
United Against Hate
Visit the web site to learn about legislation proposed to punish violence done to people based on their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
Winning an award can bring attention, and sometimes money, to your cause. Apply yourself-or nominate your favorite kid activist!
The Prudential Spirit of the Community Awards
The Prudential Insurance Company
751 Broad Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Many of the young people described in this book are Prudential honorees. Maybe you can become one, too. Since 1996, Prudential has recognized one middle school and one high school student from each state and awarded the top ten youth volunteers in the country $5,000, a gold medallion and a trophy. For an application, call, write or download one from the web site. Applications are due to your school principal, Girl Scout council executive director, or county 4-H agent no later than the last weekday in October.
The Kids Hall of Fame
Three Ibsen Court
Dix Hills, NY 11746
Get your face on a trading card! The Kids Hall of Fame publishes inspirational stories of people under the age of 20 on its trading cards, web site and magazine. Call or check out the web site to learn how to apply.
National Caring Awards
228 7th Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
The Caring Institute honors the activities Americans who ennoble the human race by helping others. Every year, five junior and senior high school students are selected="true"="true"="true"="true" from nominations submitted by their school principals. Winners receive a college scholarship. Nomination forms are available on the web site.
Start Something Awards
33 South Sixth Street
P.O. Box 1392
Minneapolis, MN 55440
Target and the Tiger Woods Foundation have teamed up to offer kids 11 to 14 years old a step-by-step program to help you reach your dreams and become a role model. After completing a series of activities, you'll be eligible to win scholarships ranging from $100 to $10,000. Enroll on-line or pick up a brochure at the Target nearest you.
President's Student Service Awards
P.O. Box 189
Wilmington, DE 18990
More than 70,000 young people have been recognized for their work to improve their communities. All students from kindergarten through college who contribute at least 100 hours of service a year are eligible for the Gold Award. Winners receive a pin and certificate. Scholarships are also available.
Unlike other traditional recognition programs, IYHF is not a competition. Instead, communities that have chapters encourage everyone-families, friends, neighbors, schools, service clubs, religious institutions, businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations-to notice the positive efforts of their youth and nominate them for recognition. Nominees choose if they want to be honored by publicly taking a pledge to mentor and encourage another young person and then partner with them in a community service project. Upon completion of their project, they become officially an honoree and get to create a personal message hand etched into ceramic tiles for one of the Youth Walls of Fame.
Your story could inspire others. The Giraffe Project wants to hear about young people who stick their necks out for the good of others. The Giraffe Project has been finding these heroes and commending them as "Giraffes" since 1982. The project tells Giraffe's stories in the media, from podiums and in schools, inspiring others to stick their necks out. Contact the Giraffe Project with your story of selfless service to others.
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