Before we say goodbye to 2019, the editors of Scholastic Classroom Magazines are highlighting some of the most inspirational, remarkable and bold students they met this past year. These 12 amazing and proactive kids brought their ideas to life, pursued their dreams and instilled change—inspiring their peers, communities, and us along the way.
Check out the list of 12 of the most inspirational kids we met in 2019, as well as the causes they’ve championed, below. You can also read their real-life stories as featured in Scholastic Classroom Magazines.
Supporting mental health — Hannah & Charlie Lucas, 17 & 15
After having her own experience with anxiety and depression, Hannah and her younger brother Charlie decided to create an app for kids who are feeling sad, stressed or lonely called The notOK App. They wanted to make it easier for young people to ask for help when they need it, so the notOK App lets kids enter the contact information of up to five people whom they trust and can talk to when they are sad or anxious. More than 70,000 people across the country have downloaded and used Hannah and Charlie’s app! Read the full article in Scholastic Action, here.
Raising awareness about the transgender experience — Leo Lipson, 16
In order to raise awareness for the transgender experience and help people learn how to be allies, Leo Lipson shares his personal story. In an essay, Leo explains what it was like growing up transgender, as well as the challenges he faced while transitioning because people weren’t always tolerant and understanding of his decisions. Leo wants kids to know more about how they can have informed and respectful conversations about gender identity. Read the full article in Choices, here.
Inspiring people to help the homeless— Jonas Corona, 16
At six years old, Jonas Corona volunteered at a food pantry with his mother. By the end of the day, he realized that homelessness isn’t just an issue adults face, but also children. Jonas knew he wanted to help, so he decided to create his own non-profit organization called Love in the Mirror. Jonas’s organization partners with other major companies and charities to help collect food, toys, clothes and other items for the homeless. They also fill up 500 backpacks a year with school supplies for homeless children. Jonas and Love in the Mirror have been able to help over 55,000 people, many of them children. Read the full article in Choices, here.
Helping veterans — Tyler, 8
Tyler wanted to help army veterans, so he came up with a unique gift for them — a hero bag! Tyler’s hero bags are filled with necessities such as toothpaste, soap and t-shirts. Tyler packs all the hero bags himself and hands them out to veterans in need. Thus far, Tyler has given out thousands of bags to veterans. Read the full article in Scholastic News Edition 1, here.
Showing kids how they can be philanthropists — Khloe Thompson, 12
Khloe is on a mission to get kids involved in philanthropic efforts. After realizing that a majority of people who participated in GivingTuesday were adults and not kids, Khloe took matters into her own hands. She messaged the organization and partnered with them to create GivingTuesdayKids, with the goal of getting one million kids nationwide to sign up and start helping others. In addition, Khloe started a charity called Khloe Kares, which makes and distributes bags for homeless women across California. Read the full article in Scholastic News Edition 4, here.
Exhibiting bravery — Selihom Kidane, 12
At the age of four, Selihom fled her home country on foot in search of safety and with the hope of being reunited with her mother, with only her ten-year-old brother Yafiet by her side. They are among the more than 400,000 refugees who have taken dangerous journeys to leave Eritrea, in Africa, this past decade. After a year and a half, staying in multiple temporary homes while seeking permission to go to America, Selihom and Yafiet’s journey finally led them to Washington D.C. where they reunited with their mother. Read the full article in Scholastic News Edition 5/6, here.
Inventing a way to test for safe water— Gitanjali Rao, 13
After the public water-system in Flint, Michigan, had been polluted with fatal traces of lead, thirteen year-old Gitanjali Rao wanted to do something that could help prevent issues like this in the future. She invented a water testing device named Tethys, which would help people find out if their water is safe to drink. Gintanjali’s device has special sensors that, once dunked in water, measure lead levels. The device then sends the data to an app on your phone, where you can examine the results. Gitanjali hopes her invention will be sold in stores and eventually around the world, since she believes all people should have access to clean water. Read the full article in Scholastic Scope, here.
Saving the planet— Jayden Foytlin, 15
After experiencing an historic flood in her home state in 2016, which ruined her house and even took the life of her friend, Jayden Foytlin realized something needed to be done. She, along with twenty other Americans ages 11 to 22 known as ‘The Climate Kids’, came together to fight climate change. They are demanding the federal government take action to stop global warming. They claim that the government’s actions and inaction in the face of climate change violates their “fundamental constitutional rights to freedom from the deprivation of life, liberty, and property.” Read the full article in The New York Times Upfront, here.
Teaching coding— Roshni & Tarini Srikanth, 17
Twin sisters Roshni and Tarini Srikanth are seniors at Tesla STEM High School who help run Hour of Code events for other students. In these hour-long sessions, Roshni and Tarini help teach kids the basics of computer coding, problem solving, and bringing their own video games, apps and designs to life. The Hour of Code event is an international event held during Computer Science Education Week with the goal of getting classrooms around the world to spend at least one hour working on a computer science project. Read the full article in Scholastic MATH, here.
Being limitless — Ixhelt Gonzalez, 14
Ixhelt Gonzalez knows her way around a basketball court. Although she has a rare condition called femoral anteversion, where the bones that connect one’s hips to their knees twist inward, it didn’t stop her from playing her favorite sport—basketball. Even though Ixhelt doesn’t use a wheelchair in her daily life, she uses a special one when she plays the sport. Her skills as a defender with the Chicago Skyhawks, a co-ed wheelchair basketball team, caught the attention of national coaches, and last summer, Ixhelt was recruited and became the youngest member of the national women’s wheelchair basketball team. She first took to the court as part of team USA at the 2018 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Germany. Ixhelt now aspires to get to the 2020 Paralympic Games! Read the full article in Scholastic MATH, here.