Parents always want the best for their children, but in an increasingly overwhelming world, it can be hard to stay positive. As a society, we need to actively work harder to inspire future generations to protect our planet and its people. Thankfully, there are many amazing role models out there that can motivate children to get involved in making the world a better place.

Top 5 Role Models for Children

  1. Malala YousafzaiMalala is one of the most famous role models of our time. She was born in the small village of Mingora, Pakistan, where it was uncommon for girls to go to school. At just 11 years old, she was forced out of school when the Taliban, the Sunni Islamist military organization, took control of her village. After speaking out about gender equality and the right to learn, she was shot in the head at 15 years old. At this point, most people would have given up, but not Malala. She kept fighting and made her own organization called the Malala Fund—a charity dedicated to fighting for equal rights and providing girls worldwide the opportunity to attend school. That year, she became the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize and later went on to graduate from Oxford University.
  2. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, has made headlines across the United States. One of the most progressive candidates, and backed by Senator Bernie Sanders, AOC recently got reelected and kept her spot as a representative for New York’s 14th congressional district at just 30 years old. AOC has been vocal about the wealth inequality gap, racial discrimination and climate change. In a time of uncertainty, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s election has been seen as a progression toward an equal world.
  3. Pink — Alecia Beth Moore, known professionally as Pink, has not only achieved momentous achievements as a singer but has often used her fame to advocate for equality and children’s rights. As a UNICEF ambassador, Pink raises awareness about global poverty, malnutrition and access to education and medicine. Moreover, Pink has supported charities related to HIV/AIDS, animal rights and women’s rights, among others. The famous singer even gets her children involved in the work, making sure to instill a sense of charity in them. At one of her rehearsals, Pink’s daughter set up a backstage candy sale to raise money for the impoverished communities in Haiti. This is a great way to get the kids involved and inspire them to do more on their own.
  4. Selena Gomez — Seen as a triple threat in the entertainment industry, Selena Gomez is another fantastic role model for children. In addition to her successful career, Gomez has consistently shown support for various charities and philanthropic endeavors worldwide. She was also appointed a UNICEF ambassador in 2009 and has dedicated a lot of time to improve societal and economic equality in the world by participating in various UNICEF campaigns and continuing charitable work on her own. Recently, Gomez has used her social media platforms to spread awareness about the social and racial injustices in the United States. Selena Gomez has also shown support for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Malala Fund and Free the Children, among others.
  5. Matt DamonMatt Damon is an incredible actor who is no stranger to charity work. He has pledged to provide clean water for impoverished communities worldwide by creating his nonprofit organization. In 2009, Matt Damon and Gary White co-founded that helps more than 17 countries receive clean water and sanitation supplies. Additionally,, through its WaterCredit program and microfinancing, supports households living in poverty with loans to obtain essential water systems, making clean water safe, cost-effective and accessible for more than 30 million people.

There are many fantastic role models worldwide that demonstrate how crucial nonprofit organizations are in improving people’s standards of living worldwide. Yet, perhaps the most important role models are the parents at home. Teach children about the real impact of charity work and get them involved in both local and global humanitarian organizations. As children grow older, they will start to venture off on their own charity projects, ensuring a brighter and equal future.

Karin Filipova
Photo: Flickr

Can changing the color of bed sheets save lives? CARE’s work in Peru proves it can.

CARE is a major international humanitarian organization whose acronym stands for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere. The organization, one of the largest and oldest of its kind, delivers both emergency aid and long-term development projects all over the world. It’s committed to “smart, culturally savvy solutions for the problems that affect communities all over the world.”  Solutions it has dubbed ‘CARE Hacks.’

Among them is its ‘Think Pink’ hack based in rural Peru. In the town of Ayucucho, the maternal death rate in 2000 was notably high at 240 per 100,000 mothers dying due to pregnancy-related causes. By comparison, Peru’s national maternal death rate was half that at the time. As a part of its efforts to bring this number among rural populations down, CARE changed the color of the bed sheets at health clinics.

In western cultures, white sheets connote cleanliness and health. In this rural Peruvian region, however, it is the color of death. Thus, by switching out the white sheets for pink ones, CARE encouraged more women to seek out treatment at clinics. This and other efforts in the area have cut the maternal death rate in half.

Another CARE hack, the bead game, was developed to confront damaging gender norms. With two colored beads representing the Y and X chromosomes respectively, playing the game provides a visual representation of how the sex of a baby is determined.

Designed for parts of the world where women feel pressure to give birth to boys, the game’s central takeaway is that it’s the chromosome from the man that dictates the sex of the baby. The takeaway resonates among women who are often blamed and stigmatized for not producing male offspring. The game is a part of CARE’s community outreach efforts dedicated to ending gender-based violence.

In Bangladesh, CARE worked with community leaders on solutions for people looking to earn a living in areas affected by severe and frequent flooding. Many people – especially women – raise poultry to sustain a livelihood. However, chickens are prone to drowning in times of severe flooding and as a result devastate household incomes.

The solution? CARE and its local partners aided women from flood-prone areas by swapping cultivation of chickens for cultivation of ducks. The idea has borne fruit, increasing the resilience of a number of families to the devastation of increased flooding due to climate change.

Other CARE Hacks include a mobile banking program in Tanzania and the introduction of fuel-efficient stoves in Sudan, among others. What links all the “hack” initiatives is a commitment to finding culturally in tune innovations to address the problems facing the world’s most vulnerable communities.

– Kelley Calkins

Sources: World Bank