Give in to Hope Day 10: Amanda Gorman

As a child with both an auditory processing disorder and a speech impediment, Amanda Gorman focused attention on reading and writing–she figured out a way to harness the power of words, instead of letting them control her. Poetry and writing helped her paint a picture of the world around her, and she uses this gift to tell stories of what it means to be a human in very exciting ways. After being inspired by Malala Yousafzai, Gorman became a youth delegate to the United Nations, and then became the first-ever Youth Poet Laureate (the Poet Laureate is considered “the official poet of the United States” for a specific period of time, with a goal of helping increase appreciation of, access to, and creation of writing and poetry). While performing one of her poems at an event, Dr. Jill Biden heard her, and was deeply inspired. When it came time for the Biden/Harris Inaugeration, Dr. Biden selected Gorman to write and read a poem for the event. The poem, The Hill We Climb, was completed by Gorman the morning of the Inaugeration, and both poem and poet inspired millions of people around the world; her words giving hope to, but also expecting work from, all of us to help create the democracy we want to be a part of.

To learn more about Amanda Gorman: (May be behind a paywall if you’ve already read too many Time articles this month!)

In her poem from the Inaugeration, Gorman writes,

“When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Can you think of things around you that help you feel lighter and brighter if you are feeling angry or sad? How about ways that you help others feel lighter and brighter?

Dear God, Help us turn the things that challenge us into things that change us and can change the world. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 9: Nick Lowinger

Like yesterday’s hero Yash and his glasses, Nick Lowinger also had something many of us take for granted–lots of pairs of shoes. One day, young Nick visited a homeless shelter and saw how many of the children and teens there did not have shoes that fit or were practical for running, playing and going to school. The image of kids without shoes stayed with Nick and he did a shoe drive as part of his bar mitzvah (a ceremony that Jewish 12 and 13 year olds go through as part of their faith journey, like when our 8th graders do confirmation) that turned into a non-profit dedicated to providing as many pairs of shoes to homeless youth as possible. Nick’s non-profit is still running, and now has 2 partner programs–one providing shoes to veterans (people who served in the U.S. military) and another specifically providing athletic shoes so that kids can participate in sports.

To learn more about Nick and the Gotta Have Sole Foundation:

Think about your favorite pair of shoes–where did they come from? Were they a gift? What do you like to do in them? What would it be like to only have one pair of shoes to do every activity in–are there things you wouldn’t do anymore?

Closing prayer: Dear God, whether big or little, let me be grateful for all of the things that I have in my life, especially my shoes. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 8: Yash Gupta

Like so many kids, Yash Gupta wears glasses. One day, his glasses broke, and he had to go to school without them. He realized that it was impossible for him to learn without being able to see, and he wondered how many kids around the world were struggling to learn because they didn’t have access to glasses. Rather than just keep wondering, he decided to start collecting glasses and connecting these glasses with kids who needed them. His small project turned into a big deal, helping over 20,000 kids in 5 countries see better and find more success in school!

To learn more about Yash Gupta, and his organization Sight Learning:

Humans have 5 senses–sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. Which of these would be the hardest for you to live without? How would being without one of those senses affect your learning at school?

Closing prayer: Dear God, please let us look at others, even those who are different, and SEE that we have more in common than we think. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 7: Gitanjali Rao

When she was only 10, budding scientist Gitanjali Rao heard about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where the entire city’s water supply was so contaminated with lead that none of it was safe to drink or cook with.  Even though Gitanjali does not live in Flint and was not directly affected by this, she knows that water is a requirement for life, and she wanted to help. Already quite accomplished in different areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Gitanjali was able to develop a tool that could measure lead levels in water and communicate that to people via Bluetooth, letting not only individuals, but entire communities know whether their water was safe to drink. Gitanjali was able to work with 3M to produce this product on a large scale, and because of her work, was named Time Magazine’s first ever Kid of the Year. Gitanjali has also created an app that can detect and warn parents and teachers of early stages of cyberbullying that their kids may be engaging in or victims of. Gitanjali is using her skills and talents to impact change in multiple ways!

To learn more about Gitanjali:

Gitanjali has used her skills and resources to create solutions for multiple problems! If you could be a part of solving 2 problems in the world, what would you want to work on?

Gitanjali is lucky to have access to lots of cool adults who believe in her and helped her ideas become reality. Who are some adults you know who could help you solve problems?

Closing prayer: Dear God, help us to always look for ways to make changes in the world, whether they impact us or not, for we are ALL connected. Amen.


Give in to Hope Day 6: Louis Braille

At only 3 years old, Louis Braille was accidentally blinded when a tool he was playing with poked him in the eye. This was over 200 years ago, and there were not very many resources for a blind person, but he managed to get accepted into a special school for blind children. While he was there, he learned about a special code that the military used to send messages back and forth, and figured out how to turn it into a series of raised dots that represented letters. By “reading” these raised dots with fingers, and understanding the code, blind people could read! With that, the Braille language was born!

To learn more about Louis Braille:

What would you miss most if you lost your sight? How do you think blind people felt once they learned Braille and were able to read?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Even if there are times where it feels like we are sightless, help us find ways to see. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 5: Jaylen Arnold

At only 8 years old, Jaylen Arnold set out to end bullying. Jaylen has Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is on the Autism Spectrum–diagnoses that cause him to act differently than his peers on occasion, have difficulty socializing, and be a target for bullies. Rather than let the bullies get to him, Jaylen stood up, spoke out, and formed his own organization, Jaylen’s Challenge, that travels around the country educating kids on how to stand up to bullies, how to not become a bully, and how to respect and celebrate the differences in one another. Now in college, Jaylen continues to educate thousands of kids each year, and is determined to end bullying in schools.

To learn more about Jaylen:

Have you ever seen anyone treated poorly because of how they looked or talked? At the time, did you do anything to help? What would you do now, if you could go back to that situation?

Closing prayer: Dear God, help us stand up for one another, and include people, rather than exclude them. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 4: Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg

On February 14, 2018, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Highschool in Parkland, Florida was the site of a horrendous tragedy–17 students were shot and killed, with 17 more injured, all victims of gun violence. Out of this horrific event, students from the school, including Seniors Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, became outspoken activitists and proponents of gun control reform. These brave students, in the face of incredible terror and grief, founded March for Our Lives, and their first demonstration, which took place in Washington D.C. only 5 weeks after the tragedy, drew 800,000 participants, and became the blueprint for other modern-day demonstrations including the Women’s March.

To learn more about Emma Gonzalez David Hogg and the other teen founders of the March for Our Lives: (content warning: does mention the school shooting and the large death toll).

Can you imagine talking in front of 800,000 people? That is a really huge number! What is something that you care about so much that you’d use all your bravery to talk about?

Closing prayer: Dear God, help us make our country safer for children and teenagers in schools. Amen.


Give in to Hope Day 3: Xiutezcatl Martinez

Now 20, Xiutezcatl (pronounced Shoe-TEZ-cat) has been passionate about protecting the environment since he was just 6 years old! With the encouragement of his activist mother, he gave talks in his home state of Colorado, before moving on to speaking to young people across the country and the globe about the dangers of climate change, and the role of young people in making the world cleaner and greener. Xiutezcatl also spreads his message as the leader of an environmental non-profit Earth Guardians, and writes and performs hip hop with a social justice theme!

To learn more about Xiutezcatl:

Xiutezcatl uses one of his talents, writing song lyrics, to help share information with young people about climate change. What are some of your talents that you could use to let people know about things you care about?

Closing prayer: Dear God, help us use our talents to fight for things we care about. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 2: Malala Yousafzai

When Malala Yousafzai was just 11 years old, a group of extremists took over her community in Pakistan, and enforced extremely strict rules, particularly on women, including that girls were no longer allowed to attend school. Malala, daughter of a life-long educator and activist, refused to go along with what was happening. She shared stories of life in her village under Taliban rule, and was not shy about talking about how the rights of girls were being taken away. Malala was shot in an attempt to keep her quiet, but she refused, and worked harder than ever to ensure that girls not only in Pakistan, but all over the world have a right to learn, and a right to be heard.

To learn more about Malala:

All over the world, there are children that don’t get to go to school, because it is too expensive, or because they need to work to help their families, or it is too far, or because they are a girl, or so many other reasons. Why do you think school is so important? What about school are you grateful for?

Closing prayer: Dear God, help us be the people who use our voice to speak up for others. Amen


Give in to hope, Day 1: Easton LaChapelle

At just 16 years old, tinkerer, inventor, and 3-D printer enthusiast Easton LaChapelle was compelled to do something after he met a little girl at his high school science fair who needed a prosthetic arm but couldn’t afford the nearly 80,000 dollar price tag! Inspired to make a difference, LaChapelle worked and experimented until he created a working prosthetic arm that could be printed using a 3-D printer, can be made with different skin tones, and will cost only about $5,000! His invention has changed the way prosthetics are made around the world, and he has inspired other companies to make prosthetics in a more affordable way. His goal is to get enough funding that his prosthetics can be given away to those in need for free!

To learn more about Easton:

Imagine you had to do everything for the next week without one of your hands working? What things might be easy for you? What would really challenge you? If you could make something today that would make life easier for someone else, what would you make?

Closing prayer: Dear God, help us be the kind of people who see problems and are inspired to find solutions. Amen.