Give in to Hope Day 27: Marley Dias

Most of us love stories. We love reading, or being read to, or writing our own. And for white children, particularly white boys, it is easy to find books with characters that look like them. But there are many kids who have a much harder time finding themselves represented in stories, and representation matters. So Marley Dias, only 10 years old at the time, started a program called #1000BlackGirlBooks, to collect stories about girls and women of color. She collected nearly 11,000 in her first drive, and sent them to schools in the US and Jamaica to help diversify their libraries. In the years since the campaign started, Marley wrote her OWN book and has even produced and hosted a show on Netflix about the importance of Black voices and Black stories. Marley knows that seeing people that look like you in books, tv, movies, politics, everywhere really matters, and she has made it her mission to use her love of reading to help Black girls feel seen.

To learn more about Marley Dias:

Have you ever read a book with a character in it that looked like you and reminded you of yourself? How would you feel if you could never find books with characters in them that were like you? What do you think it feels like when a kid finally has a book with a character who is like them?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Representation Matters. Let us find ways to help people feel seen. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 26: Virgil Smith

One of the things that many of us take for granted is learning how to swim. But knowing how to swim (or having access to places to learn) isn’t the case for everyone, and it can be a big problem in parts of the country that experience hurricanes, tropical storms, and floods. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey attacked Louisiana and Texas, flooding communities across the states. In many predominantly Black communities, many of the residents do not know how to swim, and this was true in Hitchcock, Texas. But quiet, video-game-loving teen Virgil Smith did, and when a friend contacted him for help during the storm which had turned into a flash flood, Virgil sprung into action. In an act of incredible bravery, using an air mattress as a flotation device, Virgil swam through his flooded community and rescued 17 people who were stranded in their homes and unable to swim. Tirelessly, Virgil helped the elderly, a mother and her infant, his friend’s entire family, and more. Virgil doesn’t consider himself a hero, he just “felt it was the right thing to do,” but certainly the 17 people whose lives he saved feel otherwise.

To learn more about Virgil Smith:

To learn more about why Black people are less likely to know how to swim (which has to do with racism, classism and segregation):

Where do you think Virgil’s bravery came from? Have you ever done something that felt really brave to you? Is there something you say or do when you need to feel brave?

Closing prayer: Dear God, When times are tough, may we have the bravery and determination of Virgil Smith. Amen.


Give in to Hope Day 25: Aryaman Khandelwal

Have you ever heard the saying “there’s an app for that”? Well, there seem to be apps for many things, but sometimes we realize that we need an app that doesn’t exist yet! When high school student Aryaman Khandelwal visited India with his family, they noticed that there were many sick people who did not have access to medical care, because of how few doctors there are in certain regions, and that there were people suffering from illnesses and injuries that could be simply treated if the person know what to do! Aryaman, who is quite good with computers. designed a simple app that allows community health workers to collect information from patients, even those who can’t read, put it into the app, and get a recommendation for treatment, or further care from a doctor. This service has now helped hundreds of thousands of people, have easy access to medical care and treatment. Aryaman saw a problem that he felt he had the tools and skills to solve, and created something that can benefit people everywhere!

To learn more about Aryaman:


In the second video, Aryaman talks about a little boy, Thipu, who had to go to work  because his father was ill and couldn’t work. What do you think it would be like if you had to be the person in your family who had to work to make sure your family had enough food to eat? How do you think Thipu felt when his father got better, and he could play and go to school again?

Closing prayer: Dear God, When we travel, let us remember that are all more alike than we are unalike. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 24: Avi Schiffman

Lots of us love playing around on computers, and a few of you have probably already done some coding! Programming a computer is a really cool and useful skill, but how many of us could say we created 30 different websites and apps before we turned 16? Well, Avi Schiffman can! Extremely savvy with computers, Schiffman started coding at age 7, and in January of 2020, created a Corona-virus tracker that keeps up-to-date statistics about Covid-19 and other variants worldwide! Within only 3 months, 600 million people had visited the site, and news outlets and governments around the world were using it as the most accurate, timely tracker for the virus. Even epidemiologists (the doctors who study diseases) use it to predict how and where the virus will spread. Avi’s site is still in use, he now has 12 high school students from around the globe who help him run it, and Dr. Fauci considers his site vital to ending the pandemic. Avi could have sold this program and become a millionaire, but he is passionate about the site and wants to keep improving it. For Schiffman, it is all about doing something he loves that can also help others.

To learn more about Avi:

What is something you would like to invent that could help us during the pandemic or other challenging times in our world?

Closing prayer: Dear God, whether we love computers or cooking, art or animation, something we do can improve someone’s life. Help us find and use our skills and strengths. Amen

Give in to Hope Day 23: Isra Hirsi

Like other young activists we have featured, Isra Hirsi was also inspired by Greta Thunberg’s work on climate, but her activism is something she feels she was born into. Isra, a high school senior at Minneapolis South High School, is the daughter of Ilhan Omar, who is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and also “the squad,” a group of young, progressive, politicians of color who are working to make significant changes in government that will improve society now and for future generations. With the support of her parents, Isra has been confident in herself and her part in the work for justice since she was young. She has marched and spoken out about gun violence and racism in the aftermath of the murder of Jamar Clarke, co-founded a Youth climate justice organization, and passionately speaks about intersectionality in climate justice, seeing it from her perspective as a young, Muslim woman of color. Though she won’t even graduate until this year, Isra is thinking about the generations below her, just the way her mother does. Isra is inspired by her younger sister, and does her work to give her sister a safe and healthy future.

To learn more about Isra:

To learn about Isra in her own words:

Isra inspires her mom, and is inspired by her little sister. Who is someone who inspires you? Do you think you have ever inspired anyone? How would you like to inspire others?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Thank you for surrounding us with inspiring people, and allowing us to be inspiring to others. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 22: Josh Kaplan

With weather this nice, lots of us have been spending time outdoors and being active. Josh Kaplan was a kid who loved being outside, especially when he was playing soccer, his favorite sport. As a kid, Josh was left out a lot, because he had a stutter, and kids sometimes made fun of how he talked. But at soccer–he felt just like everyone else! At his practices, Josh met one of the player’s younger brothers, a boy with Down Syndrome who loved soccer too, but never played, because there wasn’t a team he could join. Josh knew how it felt to be left out, and he wanted all kids to have the opportunity to play soccer, whether they were doing it competitively or just for fun–having different abilities shouldn’t keep them out of the game.  Josh founded a nonprofit called GOALS where soccer players with and without disabilities are paired together on teams, not only to help one another learn new skills, but also to forge strong friendships. GOALS started as a tiny project, but has now helped over 700 young people get involved in a game they love, and Josh has plans to grow it bigger. He wants everyone to have fun, be active, and make great friends.

To learn more about Josh Kaplan:

What is an activity that you love to do? Do you think there are some people who don’t have the chance to enjoy this same activity? Why might they not have the opportunity? Is there something you can do to help more people have access to an activity that you enjoy?

Closing prayer: Dear God, help us bring people from the sidelines into the game. There is room for everyone. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 21: Ashton Mota

When Ashton Mota was only 12 years old, he did an extremely brave thing–came out as transgender to his mother and his school community. There is not one perfect definition for what it means to be transgender, but for Ashton, it meant that he had always known in his heart and his mind that he was male, but when he was born, doctors and his family thought he was female because of his body parts and chromosomes. It was hard for Ashton to tell his family and school, but he felt so much better when he could dress in clothes that felt right, have people call him the name that fit him, and use the bathroom where people of his gender would go. But many transgender kids across the country and the world do not have experiences that are safe, positive and affirming. Ashton travels around the country giving talks to communities to ask them to become safe spaces for LGBTQIA kids, but he also talks to kids and families so they know that there are other transgender kids out there, and that things can get better for them. Ashton wants kids to know that it is okay to be transgender, that it is an identity to celebrate!

To learn more about Ashton:

What are some ways you can be supportive of people at your school who are different than you? If you know a student is transgender (and you will only know when they tell you, you don’t get to “guess” or assume it), how could you support them? What are things you can do to support and celebrate all the different identities in your classroom?

Closing prayer: Dear God, thank you for making all different kinds of people. Help us make sure each of them feels safe, supported and loved. Amen



Give in to Hope Day 20: Jamie Margolin

Have you ever heard the word intersectionality? You might know the word intersection, like at a stoplight, where lots of cars meet, but intersectionality is thinking about how all the different parts of who we are come together to create our identity and our experiences. Here’s a great video that I’d love for you to check out before we go further!

Maybe you can go back and look at some of the previous young activists we have talked about and think how intersectionality affected them–for example, Anne Frank was Jewish, but she also was a girl–I wonder how her experience would have been different had she been a boy? Or think of Philo Farnsworth from yesterday–if he had been a girl, or a person of color, he might have had to work a lot harder to get people to pay attention to his ideas, especially 100 years ago!

Our hero today, Jamie Margolin, identifies as many things–she is a female, a young person, she is Jewish, she is Latinx, and she is lesbian. She is also very committed to climate justice, but when she thinks about climate justice, she always thinks about it looking through all of those lenses. She is aware that she often has to work harder to get heard because she is young, and she is a woman. She fights for indigenous voices to be more centered in our climate work, since they are often left out of these conversations, even though their connection to and stewardship of the land and the natural world are cornerstones of their identity. She constantly reminds people that racial justice and environmental justice go hand in hand. Her goal is to weave a web where people across identities, countries, and belief systems can rally behind the reality that we only have one Earth, and it needs our help. She is a fearless connector.

To learn more about Jamie Margolin:

To learn more about how racial justice and climate justice are linked:

What are some of the different identities that you have? Are there some identities that make things easier for people than others? What is something you could do to help make sure lots of different voices are heard, not just the loudest ones, or the ones with the most privilege?

Closing prayer: Dear God, there are too many people saying “I can’t breathe.” Please help us do things to make breathing easier, and safer, for ALL people. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 19: Robby Novak/Kid President

When Barack Obama became our first Black president, the world seemed full of hope and possibilities. A film and video maker, Brad Montague, wanted to share that positivity and hope in a way that felt accessible to kids. His little brother-in-law Robby loved spending time with him and being in his videos, and the two created the character of Kid President. Robby, born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (or brittle bone disease) couldn’t always do the same activities that other kids his age could do, but his positivity, warmth and gigantic smile were infectious and a perfect fit for Kid President, a tiny world leader who shared inspiring videos for teachers, parents, kids and people going through tough stuff. The Kid President character is so popular, that Robby got to visit the Oval Office, and hang out with Obama himself!

To learn more about Robby Novak:

To see one of Kid President’s most popular videos:

Imagine you got to be president for the day. You can give a speech, and you can change one law. What is one thing you’d want to tell the world in your speech? What is one law you’d want to change, or create?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Let us all be part of the world’s solutions. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 18: Philo Farnsworth

Think of three inventions that you think most people are thankful for–was one of them TV? All over the world, TV helps people learn about what is happening within and outside their community, see stories of different people, learn new languages, and be entertained. In 2021, it is hard to think of life without TV, but a hundred years ago, the idea of watching moving images in a box in your house wasn’t even a possibility. A young boy named Philo Farnsworth was already taking apart and putting things back together in his house–he figured out how to create an electric washing machine so his family didn’t have to wash all of their clothes by hand, repaired a broken electric motor even though he’d never seen one before, and got intrigued in the different ways sounds and images could travel between people after having his first-ever telephone conversation. While there isn’t an easy way to explain the science behind Farnsworth’s invention, he is credited as the inventor of key pieces of telephone technology. He was actually planning on enrolling in the army to help pay for schooling after his father died and he became financially responsible for caring for his mother and younger siblings. However, once he found out that inventions he created while in the military would be the property of the U.S. Government, he chose not to enlist. He wanted to make sure he got the credit and any financial windfall for his inventions, which was a wise decision that greatly helped him and his family. Every time you turn on a TV and that bright, clear picture appears you can thank Philo’s curiosity and commitment to helping connect the world through images!

To learn more about Philo:

What do you think it was like for people, the first time they saw the moving pictures and heard the sounds of a TV? How can TV help people around the world learn more about one another?

Closing prayer: Dear God, thank you for inventors, whose big dreams help us see new worlds. Amen.