This is part of our new series "Gen: Change," in partnership with Youth Service America, featuring stories from the 25 most influential and powerful young people in the world. Click here to read more about Christopher and his amazing story.
Young people have the powerful ability to change the world today. The current young generation will face new challenges and problems that history has never seen before. That's why we need to build a stronger and more united generation now to able to solve these problems when we are older.
In order to solve 21st-century problems such as poverty, global warming, homelessness and economic crises, young people need to learn to work together. I have seen that teamwork and unity are built when people share common goals. Kids Change the World was founded in 2007 to leverage the power of young people to change the lives of the children around the world.
Beginning middle school, I was diagnosed with an under-jaw bite. Doctors said that I needed to receive the necessary corrective surgery, which was both expensive and painful, by the age of 18. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to meet a doctor that changed my life and was able to correct my under-jaw without surgery, but I began to think of the many other people in the world who may have had even more severe problems than I had.
In the summer of 2007, I began the first Summer Smile Train Read-A-Thon. The Smile Train provides free life-changing cleft-lip surgery to children in the world's poorest countries. I went to schools and libraries to present the fundraiser to students. After the outstanding response, I knew I couldn't just stop there. I had seen the power of youth to create real-world change. These problems that I began to realize existed in society inspired me to begin Kids Change the World with the mission to leverage the power of youth to make an impact on the lives of children around the world.
Soon after, I set up an online educational program called Education Preparation, a website which includes hundreds of educational videos and materials in numerous subjects. Kids Change the World aided in the development of the Dao's Children's Centre in Mombasa, Kenya for children affected by post-election violence, funded innovative cleft surgery simulation software and training for local doctors, and started a student-travel program for motivated students to our cleft surgery clinics in 80 countries.
Today, Kids Change the World is one of the world's leading youth-led nonprofit organizations dedicated to uniting young people. The nonprofit organization provides free grassroots resources, websites, and advice to young people who want to start their own charitable programs.
I always advise young people to find inspirational role models to look up to and set high goals to achieve. These inspirations of mine have brought me a long way throughout my entire life. The unparalleled experience of working and meeting people around the world and the gratifying feeling I have helping people will keep me continuing my work for as long as I live. My suggestion is to find an inspiration or idea that you are truly passionate about and do what you believe is right, even if you're standing alone.
Always remember that no dreamer is ever too small, and no dream is ever too big.