Kids Townhall Meeting Attracts Young Leaders

November 15, 2002

Seven of the most influential people in the world of child advocacy are in Columbus. Saturday, they’ll be honored for their work. Friday they worked to inspire children at a kids town hall meeting.

They’re the voices of children, determined to help kids just like themselves living in third world countries. Others have nothing to eat, 16-hour workdays and wars to fight.

“What I would like to do is maybe swap lives with a couple of the kids so they could go to my school and learn how to read and write. We could take over for them in the sweatshop so they wouldn’t have to worry about it and be able to learn to read and write. You just have to be willing to stand up and ask people to help and they will”, Drake Muetzel, an Ohio student said.

You can thank 19-year-old Canadian Craig Kielburger for sparking the fire in the eyes of Columbus area fifth graders. It’s the same fire he had at the age of just 12. That’s when he mobilized a worldwide effort called “Kids Can Free the Children”.

“On a global level you’re looking at a daunting situation. We have 33,000 children dying everyday because of poverty”, Kielburger said.

Today his organization is 100,000 youth members strong. They help about 30,000 children a day through creating medical clinic, peace centers, schools and food pantries across the globe. That’s why Kielburger and six others are being recognized for their work as international child advocates.

200 Columbus area elementary students have been studying these honorees all semester. The town hall meeting is an opportunity for the students to ask their own questions and go more in depth.

“I’m convinced every young person has an issue burning deep down inside of them. Parents and educators have a choice; they can stifle that by telling young people they’re too young or we can nurture that by encouraging them”, Kielburger said.

© Dispatch Productions, Inc., 2002. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.


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