By Diane Ako
Wisdom does not always come with age – but it’s never too late to try, says Judy Colella.
“On so many levels of our society today, from social media, reality TV and even in our political discourse, children are seeing adults acting reprehensibly,” says Colella, a musician and author of a young adult fantasy, “Overcomer-The Journey,” (www.themacdarachronicles.weebly.com), Book I of The MacDara Chronicles.
“In fact, there are many examples in which children are taking the lead in being leaders and setting the better example.”
They include kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, children with disabilities and youngsters with few positive role models.
“I was able to overcome my childhood obstacles, and I want kids to know that they can, too,” she says. “No one determines what you do in life but you.” Colella was herself a foster child who was lucky enough to be adopted by a loving family.
Colella offers some shining examples of children’s actions that can be a lesson for both other children and adults.
• 15-year-old speaks out for education for all: In one of the scariest places on Earth, Malala Yousafzai demonstrated bravery by standing up for her right to an education. She took a Taliban bullet, shot into her skull after her bus was stopped en route home from school, and boomeranged it into one of the group's worst PR moves. In Pakistan’s Swat Valley, the international terrorist group had intermittently banned girls from school and had targeted Yousafzai for speaking out against the ban. She continues to proactively support education for all children, and was recently listed in Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”
• 12-year-old wanted to honor his uncle: After Sam Maden’s uncle died in the winter of 2010, Maden wanted to honor his support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. So, he posted an online petition asking the Boston Red Sox to get in the game by producing an “It Gets Better” video. The videos are the result of a national movement that began in response to a wave of suicides among bullied teens, especially LGBT youth. In less than a week, Maden had 9,000 signatures, and Red Sox became the third professional sports team to produce a video for the campaign.
• A birthday wish from 9-year-old Rachel Beckwith: Rachel Beckwith’s birthday wish wasn’t for herself; it was to raise $300 to build wells in Africa. Tragically, Beckwith never had a chance to experience the benefit of her altruism – she died before her 10th birthday. News of the story went viral, inspiring donors to raise more than $1 million for the nonprofit charity. The little girl’s mom was able to visit Africa to witness firsthand how her daughter contributed to saving lives.
“Now these are touching and inspirational stories! While there sometimes seems to be obsessive coverage involving bad-behaving kids – or bad-behaving adults – it’s wonderful to know that there are so many amazing stories of children supporting the most vulnerable in society,” Colella says.
Do you know of an amazing child whose story you can share with us?