Kids Can Change the World

by | Feb 12, 2015


When asked what he would invent to change the world, he asked for a pass so he could think about it. When we came back to him, he laughed, put his head on the table, giggled and then announced

“I would invent a flying hot-dog machine to feed the homeless.” We all laughed. But then there was serious discussion about what such a contraption would look like and how we’d find the homeless to feed.  At least it was as serious as you can get with a six-year-old. We were playing a board game called “Phil and his Family’s Adventures in Giving,” produced by the Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana. Between the ages of six and 14 my fellow players taught me a great deal about giving last summer.

Phil's phil game

Stories about children and giving are showing up everywhere.

From Biscuits to Bleach and Copy Paper

New York Times article, July 2014- sisters request birthday gifts go to a charity they’ve chosen.  The result was a princess-themed party to benefit a local animal shelter. Guests brought what the shelter needed, from biscuits to bleach and copying paper. “Now eight years old, she remembers well her fifth birthday party and the excitement of taking the gifts to the animal shelter.”

From Legos to Robotic Arms Then there is the remarkable Easton LaChappelle, who used Legos and small engines from model airplanes to build a prosthetic hand for under $1,000. Now 19 years old LaChappelle is still building robotic limbs and has given away the technology by making it open source so that his invention can be multiplied throughout the world. This YouTube link is worth watching.

Today’s teenagers are far more likely to give of their time and their own resources than my own generation. One might wonder if it’s all about college applications, but they will disagree.

One eighteen-year-old said it this way “I think that teens like me who are involved like this do it because they really enjoy it. We wouldn’t put the time and energy into it if we didn’t get something out of it personally.”

I realize we don’t know how kid charity today is going to impact who they become in the future, but I’m betting on them.

How do you talk to kids about changing the world?

Wealth advisers who work with children stress not talking about the actual dollar amounts because it drives the wrong message.

Rather stress a focus on Here’s what I can do and how I can help change the world.

The next time you hear a kid describe how he would change the world, take him seriously.  You just might get to join in the project. They have serious plans. Just ask them.

What great giving ideas have your children suggested lately?


  1. tony morgan

    Dawn, give me a call. i have a better example of kids involvement in giving right here in Tyler than this! It would be a great topic for a future article, i think.

  2. Toni Hibbs

    Yay kids❤️
    Love these emails.


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