"Why not me?" That's the answer Craig Kielburger gives when asked why a 12 year-old boy should take on the job of trying to save children from slave labor in East Asia. One morning at the breakfast table Craig was reading the newspaper and found a story about another 12 year-old boy, Iqbal Masih, who had been enslaved at a carpet factory at the age of 6. He had escaped that slavery and worked to help free other children, becoming an international spokesperson against child labor. At 12, he was assassinated. Iqbal's story was captured by Reach And Teach author of Abe in Arms, Peggy Deitz Shea, in the book, The Carpet Boy's Gift.
When Craig Kielburger read about Iqbal in the newspaper that morning, he decided that he needed to know more, which eventually led to him traveling to East Asia. He came home from that trip, began telling the stories about the children he met, and with a few friends started an organization called Free the Children, which today boasts 2 million members, most of whom are under the age of 18.
Craig's story has inspired us at Reach And Teach for years, and whenever someone in our midst is lamenting about the future of our world, the consumerism they see in many children, or wonder if the next generations will have the same passion for social justice as previous generations, we talk about Free the Children.
Back when Craig was just getting started, he was interviewed by 60 Minutes. Now, 14 years later, they interviewed him again and you get to see what's become of something that started with a group of kids hanging out at Craig's house, determined to make a difference.
Here's the November 25th segment on 60 Minutes. Warning! You WILL be inspired.
What was it about Craig Kielburger that sparked the compassion to take on something like this? What made a youngster believe he could make a difference? A big part of it was the way he was raised. Craig and his brother Marc took a lot of the lessons they learned from their family and other adults in their lives, and then sought out more inspiration and ideas from a lot of compassionate and change-oriented people, and put together the book, The World Needs Your Kid.
About the book:
Raising kids in today's world of iPhones, "Back to School Facials" (really, they advertised those for teen boys and girls in the local newspaper), pressure-cooker schools where grades are everything, after-school competitive activities that are all about being "number one" and a barrage of television shows and movies that only promote thinking about me, me, me... is pretty tough. How do we foster an environment where young people go beyond "me" and think of themselves as part of a more global community, one to which they can contribute and through which they too can thrive. That's where books like this come in... and there are very few books like this which is why we are so thrilled to have it in our Reach And Teach store. We've been inspired by the work of Craig and Marc Kielburger (Free the Children) for many years now. This book, put together by them and Shelley Page, is truly a gem.
With chapters focused on compassion, empathy, responsibility, sharing your gifts, finding your passion, putting your gifts plus your passion together to change the world, hearts on fire, curing the "gimmes," redefining success, never saying never, your heroe's journey, friends in deed, being the change, learning through service, seeing is believing, and thinking outside the box, this book provides parents and children with a roadmap for a wonderful journey, towards building a wonderful self and a better world.
Free the Children (FTC) United States
FTC got its start in Canada but for the last few years has begun building a presence in the United States. In fact... there will be a Me to We Day (if you watched the video you'll have seen the Toronto gathering of 20,000 young people fired up to take on a year of volunteering) in Seattle Washington on March 27th 2013.
Reach And Teach - Transforming the World Through Teachable Moments
Craig Kielburger's story is just one of literally thousands of stories that we bring together under our one roof. Whether you have a girl in your life whom you want to empower to stand up against the messages of what body type is good/popular, or you want to encourage a boy who feels more comfortable playing with dolls than trucks, or you want to help a child that wants to stand up against bullying but doesn't have the tools to do so, or you are an adult who wants to take on corporate or government injustice but don't know how to get started, we've got everything from picture books to manuals for peaceful revolution ready to go. We also have products made by people around the world who have been given an opportunity by organizations like Free the Children, the Ihangane Project, Building for Generations, Youth Community Service, and others, fair-trade products which break the chains of oppression and disease. Even the toy trucks in our shop have a story behind them, being assembled by people right here at home who would otherwise find it impossible to get a job.
Here's the hard part for Reach And Teach. We're a social enterprise (AKA business) that works to transform the world through teachable moments and the key way we do that is by making products available that you won't find under any other single real or virtual roof. Those products don't transform the world until they get out in the world. So, if you were inspired by seeing Craig Kielburger's story, take a little time and check out the other stories we're ready to tell you at Reach And Teach. Share a link to Reach And Teach with your friends and family. If you've got someone in your life for whom you are going to buy a gift this holiday season, click here to use our gift advice service to tell us about that person. We'll recommend something.
You have the power to change the world through what you buy and what you gift.
Why you? Why not you?