Real heroes are those who overcome obstacles to make real, positive changes in the world. Their stories help to inspire us with evidence of the power of people just like ourselves who have worked to change things for the better. For over 15 years the Barron Prize has celebrated heroic young people, and this year is no different. It is a great honor to showcase these remarkable youth; real kids who radiate courage, compassion and perseverance. Introducing the 2017 Barron Prize winners:
Abbie, age 18, of Colorado, who created Ecological Action, a non-profit that provides solar energy to underprivileged communities, including a school for AIDS orphans in Uganda and a military veteran’s home on a Native American
Alex and Jack, age 17, of California, who founded The Plastic Pick-Up, a non-profit committed to keeping plastics pollution – especially golf balls – out of the ocean. They have removed 21,000 golf balls from the seafloor below Pebble Beach Golf Course.
Alexa, age 15, of New Jersey, who created Bags of Books, which has distributed more than 120,000 gently-used and new children’s books to students in underprivileged communities through free “pop-up stores.”
Ana, age 16, of Virginia, who created Watershed Warriors, a non-profit that has paired high school students with nearly 300 low-income and minority fifth-graders to teach environmental awareness through hands-on STEM activities.
Aryaman, age 17, of Pennsylvania, who founded Get2Greater, which uses local health workers, electronic tablets, and an app he created to provide people in developing countries with better access to medical care.
Elizabeth, age 18, of New York, who founded NY is a Great Place to Bee! to educate the public about bees and their plight, pass bee-supportive legislation, and help ensure healthy bee populations.
Ella, age 11, of Massachusetts, who created Ella’s Lemonade Shop as a six-year-old and since then, has raised $50,000 to support pediatric cancer research in honor of two of her close friends who succumbed to cancer.
Jahkil, age 9, of Illinois, who founded Project I Am to help the homeless in Chicago. In just one year, he has compiled and distributed more than 3,000 Blessings Bags filled with toiletry items, a towel, socks, and light snacks.
Joris, age 10, of Washington, who works to save cheetahs from the very real threat of extinction. He volunteers each summer at a cheetah sanctuary in Namibia, Africa, and has raised more than $14,000 to purchase GPS collars that track and protect the animals.
Josh, age 18, of Arizona, who founded GOALS (Giving Opportunities to All who Love Soccer), a non-profit unified soccer program that pairs intellectually disabled kids with neurotypical peer buddies. His program has impacted over 400 children.
Joshua, age 16, of Florida, who founded Joshua’s Heart Foundation, a non-profit that has distributed more than 1.5 million pounds of food to over 350,000 individuals in South Florida, Jamaica, Africa, India, and the Philippines.
Nitish, age 17, of Georgia, who co-founded Working Together for Change (WTFC), a non-profit that has mobilized more than 600 volunteers to help 3,000 homeless people through free medical fairs, supplies distribution, and job training.
Ray, age 14, of California, who founded Ray United FC (RUFC), a non-profit that has raised more than $130,000 to fund soccer training and health education camps in Uganda, reaching over 3,000 youth.
Riley, age 14, of Vermont, who founded Be Brave For Life and in two years, has raised more than $265,000 for benign brain tumor research. Over the past six years, Riley has had multiple surgeries to remove two benign brainstem-based tumors.
Rupert and Franny, ages 13, and 10, of British Columbia, who have worked for three years to convince 23 Canadian municipalities to make Environmental Rights Declarations, formally recognizing citizens’ rights to clean air, healthy food, and safe drinking water.
Sharleen, age 17, of California, who founded STEMup4Youth and has provided interactive STEM activities to more than 5,000 economically disadvantaged children at 40 locations across Southern California.
Sophie, age 17, of Missouri, who founded Grow Healthy and has created 22 vegetable gardens at low-income child care centers across St. Louis. She has also harvested and donated 17,000 pounds of produce to local food banks.
Stella, age 13, of Nova Scotia, who is spearheading the clean-up of the LaHave River, which contains alarmingly-high levels of fecal contamination. Because of her work, the Canadian government has allocated nearly $16 million to address the problem.
The Barron Prize annually honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment. Up to 20 top winners each receive $5,000 to support their service work or higher education.