This past Saturday hundreds of young people joined together to launch generationOn, a global youth service movement that encourages all kids to discover their power and potential to solve real world problems through service. Powered by Points of Light Institute and supported by Hasbro, we officially kicked off this global movement in the heart of Washington, D.C., on Make a Difference Day, the nation's largest day of volunteer service. It was the culmination of a week's worth of activities that involved more than 26,000 young people in service ranging from book drives to adopt-a-shark programs -- imagined and executed by kids.
The kick-off event involved young people, from preschool through 12th-grade, in a "service walk" along the Points of Light Extra Mile Pathway. They learned about how service leaders such as Clara Barton, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Susan B. Anthony created social change movements and how all change begins with the spark of an individual. As political commentator Cokie Roberts said as she spoke to the young people, "Each one of you has the power to change the world and to make your mark," just as these heroes have done.
And as members of this new generation reflected upon their power, they rolled up their sleeves to act. They made hats and scarves for the homeless, painted reusable canvas tote bags, wrapped toys to donate for the holidays and wrote letters to armed service members. Over the course of a few hours, they wrote 375 letters to the military, wrapped 200 Hasbro toys and put together 310 winter warming packages for the homeless.
Actors Corbin Bleu (High School Musical) and Madison Pettis (The Game Plan, Cory in the House) joined us in service, lending their support and encouraging the young people to get involved. "We start a movement and help make the world better," said 12-year-old Pettis. Bleu echoed that thought and brought excitement and inspiration as he shared his passion about the power of service and giving of yourself to create more good.
Hasbro Community Action Hero Cole Layman performed with his family's band "In Layman Terms", embodying the generationOn creative spirit of giving. Cole, 12, started the Paws for Peace Kids Care Club in Tampa, which he led in 20 projects. When he moved to Virginia last year, he volunteered to help younger students who needed academic and social help. He also helped the school establish its first annual Random Acts of Kindness Week.
And finally, each young person pledged a commitment to service to fulfill over the next year. Their pledges were to "feed the homeless and sing", "help my community", "inspire", "create a recycling program" and many more. Their aspirations symbolized the power and inspiration of what generationOn is about -- igniting the power of all kids to make their mark by creating meaningful change in the world. We hope these commitments will grow to encompass millions more across the nation and the world.
generationOn brings together a variety of leading youth service resources under one umbrella, including the programs of "Children for Children" and The League and the philanthropy curriculum "Learning to Give". It also includes 1,800 Kids Care Clubs and thousands of schools that reach more than two million young people in all 50 states and around the world.
The Hasbro Children's Fund, the philanthropic arm of Hasbro, Inc., is supporting generationOn with a generous $5 million gift, enabling us to offer a continuum of resources to students, families, schools, and teachers through, among other things, a new interactive website. We are bringing the fun and inspiration of unique assets and properties to bear in creating a unique movement to engage the power and energy of kids. Key program initiatives include a national youth leadership program, recognition programs, a club model that allows kids to participate in service around the globe, a signature kid-powered volunteer week, youth service grants, and significant support for the nonprofit and education fields.
Historically, change has often been driven by the idealism, passion, and energy of young people -- from the civil rights movement to the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. We have never had a greater need for creative action in the world, and we have never had a more willing and ready new generation that stands ready to meet them.
Please visit generationOn.org to see the amazing resources available for parents, teachers, and kids to make their mark on the world.
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