It's almost time. 2007 is drawing to a close and it's that moment when we tend
to look back at what the year was all about. You may look back at what made the news headlines in 2007 or what the year in sport looked like. For the more voyeuristic among us you could check out Hollywood's most notable breakups and hook-ups or perhaps your interest is more melodious in nature and then you may be interested in the year in music.
New Year's is also a moment to look forward. And what better way to do that then to aim the spotlight on some normal, non-celebrity and non-famous extraordinary young people who made the news in 2007 for noteworthy achievements that go way beyond their chronological ages. If these youngsters
are any indication of the quality of those following in our footsteps, then perhaps there is some hope for the years to come.
Ana was born in Peru and as an infant was adopted by American parents. At the age of 11 she returned to Peru for the first time. The childhood poverty she saw there made a lasting impact on her. At the age of 12 she started Peruvian Hearts and now three years later her charity has raised more than $40,000 in support of a cash-strapped orphanage in her home country.
At the age of 12 Zach was inspired by learning about William Wilberforce, a famous English abolitionist and devout Christian. From that moment on Zach made the cause of abolishing modern slave trade his very own. Today at the age of 15, Zach runs his own charity, Loose Change to Loosen Chains, from his MySpace profile. He has helped students in many schools across the USA start their own chapters. He is now the global student spokesperson for The Amazing Change and has spoken to hundreds of thousands of young people about the problem of modern day slavery. Zach even has recently published his first book chronicling his journey of love.
This brave 12 year old leukemia patient was voted the Viewer's Choice Award winner in CNN's recent Heroes campaign. Although his own treatment did not require a bone marrow transplant Pat was acutely aware of the life and death need of available bone marrow to many young leukemia patients. Pat decided to personally increase the bone marrow transplant registry by 2007 names in the course of 2007. This past summer he and his parents kicked off their Driving for Donors cross-country bus tour in the USA, visiting 30 states and enrolling more than 14,000 new donors in the bone marrow registry.
This 20 year old young man from Malawi has dedicated himself to lighting the darkness of his rural and poor country one windmill at a time. Self-taught, he was inspired to build his first windmill from a picture he saw in a textbook. William has begun by building three windmills to power his family home and has plans to build windmills in villages across his country. William's initiative has caught the eye of some foreign supporters who are now making his own formal education possible. Two weeks ago he wrote in his own weblog:
On Sunday I leave Malawi for my first trip to the United States. I'm going to see one of my American mentors and spend the holidays with him and his family... I'm excited to see SNOW and tall buildings in New York... Later we will visit the large wind farm in Palm Springs, CA.
Ryan has dreamed about bringing clean drinking water to developing countries since he was six years old. During a school charity drive his first grade teacher told the class that one of the items they could raise money for was a water well. Ryan found it unbelievable that children were dying due to lack of clean drinking water and went to work to alleviate that situation. In several months he had done enough chores to make his first water well donation of $70. In the ensuing ten years, this enterprising Canadian 16 year old high school student started his own foundation - Ryan's Well - and has raised enough money to fund 319 water wells across 14 African countries that now provide clean drinking water to almost a half million people.
This 17 year old woman read a newspaper article about the very many Cambodian villages where there are no schools and hence no educational opportunities for the local children. She was so moved by the article that she decided to do something about it, at least for the children of one Cambodian village, Srah Khvav. Rachel went on a fund raising spree during the past year while mostly home from school suffering from a very painful stomach disorder. The $52,000 she raised was supplemented by The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to make a grand total of $75,000. One week ago, Rachel made her first trip to Cambodia to attend the opening of the RS Rosenfeld school.
For me, these young people are inspiring examples of the true news-worthy people of 2007. Hopefully they are not only exemplary but also representative of the next generation breathing down our necks. If that is the case then 2008 and beyond looks a little brighter than when I read the traditional 2007 retrospectives mostly focusing on all the ways us 'responsible' adults are messing things up.
My best wishes to you and everyone who is dear to you for a wonderfully happy, healthy and peaceful 2008.