Blog | The HALO Effect
- Posted on 01/07/2015 by TeenNickBlogger
Welcome to Halo Effect 2015, TeenNick do-gooders! This year, we resolve to make the world a better place, and what better way to get inspired than to take a look at the awesome work of our HALO Effect honorees?
This month's honoree is a girl who has combined her love of reading with her passion for giving back. Sarah Dewitz, a fifteen-year-old Florida native founded the charity Just 1 Book. We caught up with Sarah to learn more about her amazing work. Check out our exclusive interview below!
What inspired you to begin 'Just 1 Book'? Why did you choose to focus your charity on books?
One day I was sitting at my kitchen table and my mom handed me a newspaper article. I read the article and found the information quite disturbing but also very interesting. The article talked about a specific area not too far from where I live and how the residents living there were having a difficult time affording things like their electric bill. If someone can't afford their electric bill, they probably can't afford books in their home. I love to read and couldn't imagine my life without books. I also knew about the correlation between low literacy rates and poverty. I knew I had to help in one way or another. Thus, Just 1 Book was born.
What do you think is the secret to success with your organization? How is 'Just 1 Book' unique compared to other charities?
I believe that the secret to success for Just 1 Book is a combination of my love for reading, my love for community service, and my love for helping others in need. There are several things that make my charity unique. One of them is that I was only 10 years old when I became a philanthropist. Another is that it combines two of my passions, reading and going green, into one cause that many people support. Just 1 Book is eco-friendly by reusing books instead of having people throw them away to rot in landfills.
What is your favorite book and why?
I don't have a favorite book in particular. To me, my favorite book is always the one that I have in my hands. I do enjoy mysteries and horror books though. I'm not one for romantic novels either, but if you hand me a good love story, I'll devour it.
Having started your organization at 10 years old, what advice would you give to other young people who want to make a difference in their community, but may not feel they have the power or resources to do so?
I've always said to other young people that if they have a thought that helps other people, there is no way it could be a bad idea. The only requirement is that they must be passionate about their cause. If the child would like to start their own charity but doesn't know what kind, I suggest doing volunteer work at some other great organizations to help them find their niche in the community service world. If a student does have a cause they are passionate about, I say go for it! Naturally, there are going to be people who will disagree with an idea. I went through the same thing when Just 1 Book was first starting. My initial proposal was already accepted by my principal, yet I would get teased for being "dorky" and wanting to help people in need. Now, I understand that at the age of 10 years old, my thought was very far from being na�ve. But these harsh words never fazed me because I knew that my idea was a good one. And my instincts proved to be true.
What are J1B's plans for the future?
I would like for Just 1 Book to reach nationwide status in the future. It is impossible to know how long this will take, but it is my hope and faith that this goal will be achieved. I would also like to have numerous bookmobiles reaching out to kids in their neighborhoods, leaving them with a book in their hand and a smile on their face.
To learn more about Sarah and her organization, check out this video below!
- Posted on 12/03/2014 by TeenNickBlogger
Introducing, Nicholas Cobb, our HALO Effect honoree for the month of December! Fitting for this time of year, Nicholas is the founder of Comfort and Joy, an organization that raises money to buy coats for homeless families. 'Tis the season of giving, HALO-ers, and Nicholas is an expert at doing just that. Check out our exclusive interview with this special do-gooder below!
Can you tell us a little bit about the story behind Comfort and Joy?
I have been concerned about the homeless since I was very young. I researched homelessness and learned that it could happen to anyone and I wanted to do something about it. I have completed projects from collecting travel size soap, lotion and shampoo from neighbors when I was 7, to organizing community supply drives when I was 12. I wanted to do something that I could do for more than one year that would help people longer. So, in the fall of 2009, I started my own non-profit corporation, Comfort and Joy. The purpose was to raise money to buy coats for homeless families. I based the name off of lyrics from the Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". I presented the idea as my Eagle Scout project and it was approved.
How do you engage members of your community to donate? How do you spread the word about your organization?
I worked a lot with my Scout troop and my community. I used already existing websites like "Make a Difference Day" and I built my own website www.comfortandjoytexas.org. I use Constant Contact on my website to keep my volunteers and donors informed. I also work with other organizations like the Veteran's of Foreign Wars, The Junior League, The Home Depot Foundation, and when I was in high school, my National Honor Society chapter. The awards I won also helped a great deal to spread the word about the organization. Many of those organizations then featured Comfort and Joy on their websites, too. If you Google "comfort and joy nicholas cobb" you will see all the websites that gave us coverage. I am so thankful for that.
Since starting college at the University of Texas, how have you been able to balance your time between school and your work with Comfort and Joy?
It's tough, but technology is a great facilitator. I can easily keep up with my website from any location with internet. Projects for this year will be more coat projects, of course, and support for a feeding project through my church.
What are your hopes for Comfort and Joy in the next few years? How do you see the organization growing?
My hope for Comfort and Joy is to establish national chapters... I want to have chapters all over the country so other young people can experience the joys of giving back to their communities.
What has been one of the most fulfilling moments you've experienced since starting your organization?
One of the most fulfilling moments was when a woman at one of the shelters I volunteered at told me in tears that she was so moved that when she was back up on her feet that she wanted to do something to help other people too. It was a good feeling to feel like you inspired someone to sort of pay it forward. On a personal note, because of my civic involvement, I was chosen by the Boy Scouts of America to be part of the delegation to present the Boy Scout's "Report to the Nation" culminating in a presentation to The President of the United States of America in the oval office. That was just an unparalleled honor that I will never be able to forget.
To learn more about Nicholas, check out the clip below!
- Posted on 10/01/2014 by TeenNickBlogger
It's the beginning of the month, and that can only mean one thing: It's time to honor one do-gooding teen who has made a difference in a major way. Meet Zachary Mallory, an LGBTQIA advocate and our HALO Effect honoree for the month of October. Zach contributes a unique vision and drive to the gay rights fight which, although present and strong, is very much still being fought. Check out our Q&A with Zach to learn more about his awesome work!
What inspired you to become an LGBTQIA youth activist? Can you share a little bit of your story with us?
What inspired me to become an LGBTQIA Youth Activist was going to conferences and listening to stories and realizing the struggles that everyone like me goes through. I looked up statistics and found that LGBTQIA have it harder in schools. I am a advocate for Safe Schools.
What advice would you give to someone who is being bullied, but worried about speaking up?
Keep your head up and let your voice be heard. Even if you are afraid, stand up for what you believe in and what you are advocating for. Remember, it does get better and it can't rain forever.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an effective LGBTQ ally?
Advocate and stand up for what you believe in. Human rights are for everyone regardless who or what you are. LGBTQ allies play a extensive role in the LGBTQIA Community!
What is your greatest hope or goal for the future of the LGBTQIA community?
My greatest hope for the future of the LGBTQIA community is that we can all come together and stand as one, not as many. My hope is that we can be the generation to completely combat bullying, discrimination and harassment of LGBTQIA youth.
To learn more about Zachary, check out the clip below!
- Posted on 09/03/2014 by TeenNickBlogger
Meet Virginia Newsome: She's an Oklahoma City University drama student with a passion for musical theatre and arts advocacy. As the founder of heARTS, a non-profit based in Kentucky, Virginia has turned her love of performing into an organization that helps schools and communities restore and create fine arts programs. Talk about star power! Check out our interview with our HALO Effect honoree for September, and get inspired by Virginia's awesome work!
How long have you been performing? Do you have a specific focus in the arts?
I have been performing since I was four years old. I would sing and dance into a microphone every chance I got. I started performing in plays as young as five and have been hooked ever since. I went to the High School for Creative and Performing Arts in my hometown of Lexington Kentucky to study Drama, and now I am a sophomore musical theatre major at Oklahoma City University, the home of names like Kelli O'Hara, and Kristin Chenoweth.
How did you go about creating a business plan for heARTs? Why is having a solid business plan important to the success of your organization?
My family was very instrumental in helping me form a business plan for heARTS. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs themselves, so I knew they would be able to help me learn the skills to come up with a solid plan for what my goals were with this organization. Business plans are essential when creating a program like heARTS. It not only helps you understand what your exact tasks and goals are for the program, but it provides a clear understanding of what the message and motive of the program is for donors, volunteers, and other affiliates.
Can you tell us a little bit about your music video collaboration with children's hospitals?
This year I am starting to expand heARTS into Children's Hospitals all over the country, starting in my hometown of Lexington, KY as well as where I currently live, in Oklahoma City, OK. I will be providing classes, conducting workshops in drama, dance, voice, and art for children who are able, as well as providing other activities like music videos, and art supply carts to give to new children who have just entered the hospital.
What is one little known fact or common misconception about Arts in Education?
Most people aren't aware that children who participate in Arts education classes throughout elementary, middle, and high school, receive higher test scores on average on the SAT and ACT, allowing them to attend a major college. Just by participating in one class a semester, that can improve your test score an average of three points.
Why do you think it is so important that the arts be a part of every kid's education?
I believe that in our education society, we have started to focus on always having the "right" answer. I know for myself and my friends this has caused us to expect perfection in our school work and extracurriculars, which is near impossible. The arts allow you to have freedom in your thinking. They allow us imagine, and explore to express ourselves and help us forget about the negative in our life and just have fun being who we are, and not worry about what is "right".
To learn more about Virginia and her organization, check out the clip below!
- Posted on 08/05/2014 by TeenNickBlogger
"Helping is more than our hobby," reads the slogan for Freedom Chairs, a non-profit organization that transforms old wheelchairs for those in need.
Since the organization began, founder and CEO Tim Balz has combined his technical robotic skills with his inventive spirit to give the gift of mobility in his hometown of Indiana and beyond. Check out our exclusive Q&A with the August HALO Effect Honoree, and learn more about Tim's incredibly inspiring story!
What inspired you to begin your organization Freedom Chairs? How did you come to focus on this specific cause?
During my sophomore year of high school I noticed a student named Steven Scholl who was stuck in the hallway because he was unable to move his manual wheelchair. I got in contact with his parents and asked why he wasn't using an electric wheelchair, and they said that his insurance denied the request because he wasn't "disabled enough." I tried to fix a wheelchair that my neighbor gave me to play with on our FIRST Robotics team, but it turned out to be unfix-able. I was determined to help my new friend Steven so I traded my moped for a wheelchair that was repairable. I customized the wheelchair to be exactly what Steven needed and gave it to him just before he graduated. The smile he had when we gave him the wheelchair was so incredible that I developed a passion for helping people in similar situations to Steven, and that's how Freedom Chairs started.
How has Freedom Chairs grown since it started in 2011?
Freedom Chairs has given away more than 85 wheelchairs since we started in 2011. We have dozens of wheelchairs in our workshop and have work days nearly every weekend to repair and rebuild wheelchairs.
What is the process that goes into building a Freedom Chair? What kinds of features does a typical wheelchair have?
When we get an old chair donated to us, it is typically in pretty poor condition. We tear the chair down and repair anything that isn't in like-new condition, and rebuild it to make is as though the recipient gets a brand new chair. A typical wheelchair will have an assortment of features ranging from power seating to lights and turn signals. We have even gotten a few chairs that use head control for someone who is paralyzed.
How did you learn how to customize these electric wheelchairs?
I learned to customize the wheelchairs through the skills I gained in FIRST Robotics, and the countless hours spent tinkering with the chairs that were donated. I would try to understand how and why everything worked on the chair.
With Freedom Chairs, you saw a peer in need and took action. What advice would you give to someone who has a desire to help others, but doesn't know where to start?
If someone has a desire to help others, the most important advice that I can give is to look for ways to make a difference, because not everyone in need has a voice. Volunteering for community service through school clubs is how I got started helping others, so that is a great place to start. The biggest thing is to never let people convince you that someone else will come along and fill a need that you find.
To learn more about Tim and his organization, check out the clip below!
- Posted on 07/02/2014 by Rachel1016
It's the beginning of the month and that means it's time to honor teens who Help And Lead Others in a big way. Join us in congratulating our HALO Effect honoree for July, Zachary Certner!
Zach is a eighteen year-old New Jersey student who co-founded SNAP, Inc. (Special Needs Athletic and Awareness Programs), a non-profit organization that aims to help autistic children across the globe improve their social and athletic skills through sports programs. Check our our exclusive Q&A to learn more about Zachary's incredible dedication to this cause!
What inspired you to co-found SNAP, Inc.? What were the beginning stages of the organization like?
I was inspired to get involved with special needs children because a close family friend was diagnosed with severe autism. In my community there are limited programs for special needs children, since sports have always been a passion of mine, I felt strongly about giving every child the opportunity to be part of a team. I was disturbed seeing kids excluded from sports, lunch tables, and even friendships just because they were different. This action led to the creation of my 501c(3) non-profit organization SNAP: Special Needs Athletic and Awareness Programs.
To translate this idea into a reality, I needed financing and community involvement. To accomplish this massive undertaking I contacted the Board of Education, local recreational departments, mayors, and other community leaders; fundraising became a necessity and I worked endlessly to locate and contact potential donors.
What do you think is uniquely important about pairing athletic programs with Special Needs advocacy?
SNAP was formed to help improve the lives of children who suffer from autism and other disabilities. Currently, it is estimated that one in every 84 children is diagnosed with autism. Autism can prevent children from learning, behaving, and communicating effectively. This often leads to bullying and discrimination in the classroom. My hope was that by providing autistic and special needs children with athletic and social programming, I could improve their physical abilities, communication skills, and self-esteem. I created a regular schedule of free sports clinics to give special needs children an opportunity to learn and to play all with peer mentors. My philosophy is Kids Helping Kids; a direct contrast from special needs children's usual interaction with adult doctors, therapists, and teachers.
How did you work to expand SNAP's influence abroad to countries like Guatemala, Tanzania and China?
After running our sports clinics for five years in New Jersey, we understand that sports is the way to make everyone feel equal and give them the confidence they need everyday. I felt that the special needs children should learn to give back as well, so we conducted sports drive to collect equipment for children in Tanzania.In 2010, I traveled to Tanzania on the first ever mission trip, providing the children of Sibusisio with donations and sports equipment. The children were especially enthusiastic about soccer, immediately breaking off in game after blowing up the newly donated soccer balls. Everyone was equal on the field, disregarding gender, race, and any disability.
In 2011, SNAP expanded on a global level and partnered with the first ever special needs school in Nebaj, Guatemala. Thanks to an incredible organization Mayan Hope (link), SNAP hopes to continue helping special needs children around the world. We purchased all necessary materials from schoolbooks and supplies, to desks, chairs, and water purifiers. With the help of Mayan Hope, we hope to raise the necessary funds to secure a permanent and safe learning atmosphere for children with special needs. In a country with no education and awareness on autism, a supportive environment is crucial and necessary.
Can you tell us a little bit about the sensitivity training SNAP offers to student volunteers?
Through a series of presentations and hands on modules, I show children the challenges and frustrations faced by their disabled classmates. Using blind folds, mirrors, and balance balls, my training allows students to experience the difficulties and frustrations of various disabilities. It is through the training that the mainstream students walk in the shoes of various disabilities. It is the moment that they feel how frustrated they become doing simple activities that we take for granted everyday, that I know I have reached them.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions about Special Needs children?
I think the biggest misconception is that they are just like you and I, they just might not be able to express what they are feeling. They want to be accepted and included even if they are different. People assume that because these children have difficulty interacting with their peers, they are unfriendly or shy. But it is that they cannot communicate their desire for a friendship like we can. They also do not show emotion so that is often difficult interpret what they are feeling.
Can you recall one memorable moment, big or small, when you realized you were truly making a difference?
I never imagined that someone who couldn't speak could say so much. Growing up with our family friend was the foundation for my organization. I always wondered if I truly was making a difference in these children's lives. Those thoughts changed, however, when I met Charlie, also afflicted with autism.
Charlie had been part of SNAP for many years, but struggled each session. When he walked into my clinic's gymnasium the each session, I saw how apprehensive his parents were and wondered each week if he would come back. Charlie remained expressionless as I handed him off to his volunteer to begin practicing basketball. Months past and we barely made improvements. At the clinic, I found Charlie sitting on the floor biting his fingers ferociously. I sat beside him and held his hands away from his mouth. His eyes focused on me, but his face remained expressionless. Charlie then grabbed his electronic interpreter and slowly typed on the keyboard. As soon as he finished, he dropped the computer and ran to other side of the gym. As I picked it up to return it to his parents, I could see what Charlie had written - "C-l-i-n-i-c_y-e-a-h". That was the moment that I knew I had to continue. The magic that is created is unimaginable in the clinics.
To learn more about Zachary and his organization, check out the clip below!
- Posted on 06/04/2014 by Rachel1016
The HALO Effect continues to spread as we honor teens who make a difference in a big way. Are you ready to be inspired? Join us in congratulating our HALO Effect honoree for the month of June, Neha Gupta!
Neha is a seventeen year-old Philadelphia student who founded Empower Orphans, a non-profit organization aimed at addressing worldwide problems related to orphaned and abandoned children. The goal of the organization is to break the cycle of poverty by providing these children with fundamental education skills and basic healthcare. To date, the organization has impacted 25,000 children around the world. Check our our exclusive Q&A to learn more about Neha's remarkable accomplishments!
What inspired you to start Empower Orphans? What were the beginning stages of your organization like?
Empower Orphans was born as a result of my annual trips to visit my grandparents in India. As part of our visits, I would volunteer at the Baal Kunj Orphanage along with my parents. It was there that my entire perspective on life changed and matured. As I listened to the stories of the children and heard them weep, I was able to feel their pain in my heart. Placing myself in their shoes, I identified with them. I pictured myself living in rural India. I pictured myself being abandoned by the two people I love most. I pictured myself sleeping on a cold floor with my bones jutting out from malnutrition. These children of my age and ethnicity seemed so similar to me, and yet, we were living different lives. It was shocking to hear that they would likely never escape the clutches of poverty because they lacked access to fundamental education and basic healthcare. I felt as though it was my responsibility to take action to help them lead better lives. Through this experience Empower Orphans was created.
Empower Orphans has many areas of impact for orphaned and underprivileged children including food, healthcare and education. How do you identify which areas and/or children are in need of which kind of support?
On a geographical basis, we have concentrated our efforts mainly in Northern India and the Philadelphia region. The operating principle of Empower Orphans has always been not only to support children but also be able to verify and measure the impact. My father's extended family lives in Northern India and is regularly verifying that all donations and services are utilized by and for the children and there is no theft. Additionally, I visit India every year to identify new projects by talking directly to the children and then execute the projects. On a regular basis, we receive requests to support orphans and disadvantaged children in Africa and other parts of Asia. Once we have validated these organizations and have a verification process in place, we will expand our coverage.
What do you think is the key to successful fundraising?
Networking, passion and perseverance.
What has been one of your proudest accomplishments with Empower Orphans?
It has been heartwarming to see how the individuals helped by Empower Orphans are thriving. One example is Meena, a young woman living in a village in northern India. When she was 18, Meena's father lost his job and the family had no other income. Meena believed she had to step up to help the family, so she enrolled in the sewing center established by Empower Orphans. She used her new skills to start her own business and with the money earned, she not only provided for her family, but she also brought electricity to her house for the first time. This enabled her brother, Ram, to study at night and pass his electrician's exam. Now both support their entire family. On one of my recent trips to India, Meena invited me to her home, a small room shared among six people, as a way of thanking me for the opportunity she was given. As Meena cried tears of happiness, she said, "Neha didi, dhanyavaad" or "Neha, my sister, thank you." I started to cry as well, humbled to be considered as part of her family and share their hope.
If someone wanted to become involved in Empower Orphans, where should he or she begin?
There are multiple ways that someone can get involved with Empower Orphans:
1) Identify your cause and start your own fundraising team on our website
2) Volunteer for our projects in India and US
4) Spread the word about Empower Orphans through social media
To learn more about Neha and her organization, check out the clip below!
- Posted on 05/07/2014 by Rachel1016
Eve Nerima is an 18-year-old high school student with a unique vision and unrelenting commitment to helping others. Originally from Kenya but currently residing in Texas, our HALO Effect honoree for the month of May has drawn on her own personal experiences to not only build compassion for those less fortunate, but help them build better lives. As the chapter president of the Junior World Affairs Council (JWAC) of Dallas/Forth Worth, Eve has devoted her time and energy to raising awareness for children's causes around the globe. From organizing food and clothing drives to holding marathons and other fundraisers, she is a fearless agent of change.
Check out Eve's full bio here and check out our exclusive Q&A below to learn more about all of her amazing work!
Congratulations on your HALO Effect award! Can you give us a little background on what Save the Children's Junior World Affair Council (JWAC) does? How does it differ from the larger Save the Children organization?
Save the Children's Junior World Affairs Council is part of the larger World Affairs Council that has over 45 similar organizations in the Dallas/Forth Worth area. JWAC, as we locally call it, is purposed to help my fellow high school students gain insight, understanding, and information to keep abreast of international affairs. We participate in international community service projects like the Save the Children Marathon Run as well as host Cultural Corners that enable high school students gain insight into the day-to-day life of someone living in another country.
What is one of the most meaningful projects you've completed with Save the Children's JWAC?
The most meaningful project that I have been fortunate to complete with JWAC would be the Save the Children Marathon Run that was on October 19th, 2013. This run brought together students from both sides of our friendly high school rivalry in an effort to raise money to help kids survive, thrive and save lives in the hope of a better future. In collaboration with Save Children, our teams and other teams in the United States and around the world raised a total of $92,512. The money that we helped raise continues to help over 74 million children who benefit from programs organized by Save the Children here in the U.S., as well as around the world.
From your experiences living in Kenya, you've witnessed firsthand how many children are in need of help. How can other young people become educated on the world issues that may not affect their daily lives?
Over the short course of my life, I have found that information destroys ignorance. My experiences while living in Kenya act as a torch to educate people about the need to be thankful for the small luxuries that we are fortunate to have. Most of my peers aren't able to connect to other worldly issues since they are stuck in their own bubble, but through sharing our experiences, we all become knowledgeable of our surroundings.
Can you describe some of your responsibilities as president of JWAC? What a huge accomplishment � how did your involvement in the organization lead to holding such an important position?
As President of JWAC I am responsible for organizing community service projects such as the Save the Children Marathon Run and Kiva Loans project and supervising the Cultural Corner presentations. Being President takes so much more than the simple task of overseeing projects. JWAC members would look up to me for leadership and guidance. My experiences made me a role model to them and even though most people would run from such a high pedestal, I knew I had to step up.
If someone wanted to become involved with Save the Children, where should he/she begin?
If someone wanted to get involved with Save the Children, I would advise them to start at their school or community. As long as you're passionate about a cause, anything is achievable. I would also advise them to get in contact with Frances Moore, the Fundraising Manager of Schools & Community Organizations. Any leader needs a strong confidant and she happened to be mine.
- Posted on 04/22/2014 by Rachel1016
Happy Earth Day, everybody! The trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and Mother Earth is waking from its winter slumber! Every year on April 22, Earth Day comes around to remind us how important it is to protect our precious planet. And now that spring is in full swing, what better way to celebrate the all of the beautiful things this world has to offer than by making a difference? Here are five easy ways to celebrate Earth Day every day!
FIVE EASY WAYS TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY (ALL YEAR ROUND!)
1. Check your Earth-saving skills: Are you doing good for the environment or are you leaving a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint? Take our two quizzes 'How Green Are You?' and 'How Will You Save the Planet?' to find out!
2. Recycle your old electronics: Did you know that your old cell phone or digital camera can be reused to make important materials? Don't just throw them away, take your old or unused electronics to an e-waste recycling facility. E-waste can be extremely harmful to landfills, so it's important that your unused devices get discarded properly!
3. Take shorter showers: Don't get us wrong, we like leisurely showers as much as the next person. But does it really take 20 minutes to lather, rinse and repeat? Set a timer for your next shower and see if you can beat the clock! You'll waste less water and your fingers wont get pruny!
4. Pledge an 'Act of Green': Register with Earth Day Network's 'A Billion Acts of Green' campaign to make a contribution (large or small!) to supporting sustainability efforts. Whether its recycling your crayons or planting a garden, there are a billion ways to take action!
5. Go for a walk and enjoy the outdoors: Take a moment to appreciate Mother Nature in all its glory. Find a park and take a stroll or have a picnic; go for a bike ride and explore your own neighborhood; literally stop to smell the roses! Whatever you do, just go outside!
And if you want to really be inspired to make a change, check out the amazing work of two of our former HALO Award winners. Megan Kilroy is a 2009 HALO Award honoree who makes a difference by cleaning up beaches in her hometown. And Denzel Thompson transforms dilapidated lands in his community by planting urban gardens!
There are so many ways to Help And Lead Others to environmental activism, and maybe you or someone you know already works hard to protect our planet. Nominate them to be recognized by the HALO Effect, and make their impact known!
Finally, get in the green spirit with these awesome throwback Degrassi clips! Remember when Jake and Katie bonded over planting a garden? Or when Emma tried to get Sean to help her pick up garbage at the ravine? Check 'em out below!
JAKE AND KATIE PLANT A GARDEN
CLEAN THE RAVINE
EMMA VS. THE TOMATO
What are some of your Earth Day resolutions? Let us know in the comments!
- Posted on 04/02/2014 by Rachel1016
Hey, TeenNick do-gooders, do you feel that? The mighty force of Helping And Leading Others? The HALO Effect continues to spread as we congratulate our HALO Effect honoree for the month of the April!
Meet Teagan Stedman, a high school freshman who brings together the power of music and service to make a serious difference in the lives of kids battling cancer. He's the founder of Shred Kids' Cancer, a non-profit organization whose mission is not only to help raise awareness and support for pediatric cancer, but also use music to hold events that are meaningful and uplifting for kids bravely fighting this terrible disease.
Congratulations on your HALO Effect award! How did you come up with the idea for your organization, Shred Kids' Cancer?
A friend in my school carpool had an older brother who was battling cancer. I wanted to do more than ask, "How's Alex doing?" So I looked into ways I could help other organizations that supported kids with cancer. I found that they had a lot of rules and restrictions about letting kids help, so I thought I should do something myself and thought that other kids would also want to help out.
I knew my friend liked music and was also feeling isolated being out of school for so long, so I thought a concert with a bunch of bands would lift his spirits. I knew other kids bands could help, so I asked them, got the Roxy in Hollywood to agree to be the venue, got Guitar Center to be a sponsor and help us get items for our auction and as well as help with other costs. Then, to attract a crowd, I got Guitar Center to ask some celebrity musicians and Shredfest was born.
The event was a great success. Other kids said they had friends that needed support, so we had another Shredfest the following year and raised a lot of money for pediatric cancer research to benefit more than just one person. Then I realized it was time to make Shredfest an official charity, and I founded Shred Kids Cancer as a corporation and it eventually became a 501c3 public charity [which means that SKC is an official tax-exempt non-profit organization].
What do you think is particularly special about bringing together music and service?
Music has the ability to change people's moods and lift their spirits—especially live music. People can get lost in it. It also has a way of bringing people together to share a common bond. It is almost like another language that we all speak. Music works well with service, as it is a gift, in a way, that allows people to share a common mood and move them to either dance, sing or help each other. Also, whether it be through lyrics or tone, music helps get messages to sink in with people.
When did you start playing guitar? What is your favorite song to play?
I started playing when I was seven years-old. My favorite song to play is my original music with my band Clockwork City—I love improvising and jamming with other musicians on stage.
What is one of your most memorable moments from a recent Shredfest?
It was this last one, Shredfest 6, when Kaitlin's (our "Shredhead" aka someone who is currently battling cancer) mom said, "Shredfest 6 was as good as any 'Make A Wish'! Not only are you raising much needed funding and awareness, you are truly making Kaitlin feel like a princess who is loved by a huge community that you have brought together."
Who are some of your favorite guitarists?
I really admire Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you've had to face while growing your organization?
We realized in order to grow we needed to diversify and get different groups interested in helping out. Trying to diversify so that we can spread awareness to all types of people has been a challenge. We have several events, including Shredfest, our annual music event which attracts a lot of musicians, we have had a lot of success with our Rock The Runevents (5K/10K and 1K kids run) that attract those who are into healthy lifestyles, and we have our Be Bold, Be Bald event (in which participants wear a bald cap for a day to raise awareness for what someone going through chemo has to deal with), and we are an official charity partner with the LA Marathon, attracting those super endurance athletes or those wanting to do a bigger challenge than the 10K. We are looking into other areas and always keep music as a priority woven into each event.
Another challenge for us is trying to spread throughout the nation. We are working to have kids start Shred Kids' Cancer clubs in their schools and hope to have clubs and/or chapters in other areas and regions.
You have already accomplished so much at such a young age. Do you have any advice for other kids who might want to start an organization like yours?
Think big but start small. Enlist a lot of people to help out. If your project is a success then, build on it and never give up on your goals.