“I believe the children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way". This memorable Whitney Houston lyric still holds much value today as we witness the younger generation taking great strides to successful futures of their own. While some of us were busy playing games and making irresponsible decisions in our younger years, these ambitious children have got it all figured out and are on a great path to a successful future. From being founders and CEO’S, giving back to their communities or changing the status quo, these children will inspire us all to do better.
These 10 inspirational kids all under the age of 18 continue to show us that age is just a number and we are never too young to make a difference.
Activist turned author Marley Dias, is changing the face of black literature one book at a time. As an active reader, Dias got tired of reading books about “white boys and their dogs” and decided she was going to do something about that. In 2015, Dias launched her campaign #1000BlackGirlBooks in which she aimed to collect and donate books that highlighted black girls, a genre that desperately needed the necessary attention. Reaching well over her original 1,000 book goal, Dias has collected over 9,000 books and continues to pursue her mission of proper representation in literature. At the young age of 13, Dias is not only an activist but has recently added author to her resume with her latest book Marley Gets It Done: And So Can You!
Cory “Mr. Cory” Nieves
At just 6 years old, Cory Nieves, best known as Mr. Cory, had the passion and desire to be an entrepreneur. Tired of taking the bus with his single mom, Lisa Howard, Cory decided to start selling hot cocoa in hopes of raising enough money to buy a car. From selling hot cocoa to lemonade and ultimately cookies, Corey’s dedication and persistence eventually led him to become founder and CEO of his own company, Mr. Cory’s Cookies. The all natural and high quality cookies that come in a variety of flavors from sugar, oatmeal raisin and double dark are fan favorites that has led the company to work with leading brands like Macy’s, Mercedes-Benz and Ralph Lauren. The tenacity of this young boy created a business for himself that changed his life. Not to mention, he has also secured him a spot on the 18 Under 18 Fortune List for young innovators who are changing the world.
Annika Viswesh is the perfect example of using your hardships to fulfill your purpose. At just one year old, Annika Viswesh became legally blind due to a condition known as amblyopia. While she has undergone various procedures to improve her eyesight, this experience encouraged her to develop an invention to make the process of dealing with amblyopia an easier one for other children. In 8th grade, Viswesh created the Oculus Patch Assistant which assists in the effectiveness of the intense amblyopia treatment process. With a smart sensor, smartphone app and a machine which learns algorithms, Viswesh has managed to create an invention that makes the lifestyle of those with amblyopia a lot easier. Although not often discussed in society, amblyopia affects roughly 12 million children worldwide and inventions such as the Oculus Patch Assistant are greatly appreciated.
Who knew getting stung by a bee would be the launch of this young girls successful career? This is exactly what happened to Mikaila Ulmer; after being stung by a bee, Ulmer became fascinated with them, and with her fascination quickly turned into admiration once she understand how pivotal they were to our ecosystem. Although a pivotal part of human life, over the years the bee population has decreased significantly and Ulmer’s idea for Me & The Bees Lemonade aimed to fix this problem. Ulmer’s decided to create Me & The Bees Lemonade, in which she sweetened it with honey instead of sugar and artificial flavoring. This decision to substitute sugar for honey subsequently saves the bee’s, is a healthier option for consumers and also keeps the beekeepers in business. As for Ulmer business, in 2015, she snagged her a $60,000 investment from popular business reality show Shark Tank.
At just 17 years old, Jazz Jennings is making a difference for transgender children. At 3 years old, Jennings became one of the youngest people to identify as transgender in the public eye. Born a male, Jennings has always identified with being a woman and is currently in the process of confirming her gender confirmation surgery. An advocate for the transgender community, Jennings uses her public platform to educate others on the transgender experience. Jennings is Co-founder of Trans Kids Purple Rainbow, an author of two books and the star of TLC Series, I Am Jazz. With her platform, she aims to make life for other transgender people an easier and more accepting experience.
Jaylen Arnold, is an activist and actor who aims to put an end to school bullying. A victim of bullying in his early years due to his speech impediment associated with Tourette’s Syndrome, Arnold has first hand experience of the harmful effects of bullying. Rather than fall victim to his situation, this resilient young boy at the tender age of five years old created “Jaylen’s Challenge” in hopes to bring awareness and ultimately bring an end to bullying in our school systems. His campaign produces anti-bullying gear, books, posters and various material to assist teachers in spreading awareness. Nearly 10 years since it’s inception, Arnold continues to spread positivity and love with his challenge and has gotten the attention of many big names in the industry. In 2017, Prince Harry and Prince William both awarded Arnold with the Princess Diana Legacy Award in honor of their mother for his humanitarian efforts.
Khloe Thompson is a 9 year old philanthropist that is sure to warm your heart with her generosity. Thompson is the founder of Khloe Kares, a charitable organization that caters to homeless women. On her daily commute to school, Thompson would always feel sorry for the homeless people she would pass along the way and decided she needed to do something to help. With the help of her mother and grandmother, Thompson would sew homemade bags, which she later named Kare Bags and fill them with feminine products, toothpaste, deodorant, soap and other daily woman necessities. Thompson would later deliver her Kare Bags to the homeless women in the community. With big goals ahead, Thompson believes it’s never too early to make your mark on the world and has plans to open up a community center for homeless people in the future.
With Flint, Michigan undergoing a clean water crisis, Gitanjali Rao took methods into her own hands. Originally as a science fair project experiment, Rao invented a 3 part device that can detect lead in drinking water. The device called Tethys named after the Greek Titan, goddess of water, uses carbon nanotubes and cylindrical structures to identify if the water is contaminated. The carbon nanotubes sensors show visible reaction when exposed to lead and the opposite effect for clean water. The device of this young girl, just 11 years old, can ultimately solve the problems of many dealing with contaminated water worldwide.
Bishop Curry V
At just 10 years old, Bishop Curry V’s has become an inventor. While he has made many gadgets, his latest invention is sure to save lives. Saddened by a death of an infant child left in a hot car, Curry V invented a device to prevent these deaths from happening. His device Oasis is programmed to contact authorities if a child is detected in a non moving vehicle. The device attached to the car seat then blows cool air until authorities have arrived. With more than 36 children dying from hot car deaths yearly, this young boy’s invention will hopefully lower these statistics.
Designer, activist, cartoonist, animated filmmaker and CEO, Maya Penn is changing the face of design. At just 16 years old, Penn founded Maya’s Ideas which provides environmentally friendly fashionable clothing to the public. This line that produces t-shirts, dresses, jewelry, hats, scarves and much more, continues to focuses on sustainability within their creations. An advocate for protecting the environment 10-20% of her profit is donated to nonprofits and charities worldwide.