Caroline Fernandez: Activity Mummy


Kids Helping Kids

An Interview with Craig Kielburger


I had the chance to review two titles from Me to We Books My Maasai Life: A Child’s Adventure in Africa by Robin Wiszowaty and Lessons From a Street Kid by international children’s rights activist Craig Kielburger. After reading them I wanted one thing: an interview with Craig.

Why?  Because these books are inspirational for kids as well as parents, in terms of travel, social consciousness, empathy, culture and generosity.  I wanted to hear from Craig himself, how parents can support kids helping kids.

Here is my interview with Craig:

The world is a big place for kids.  "Lessons From a Street Kid" and "My Maasia Life" are both so rich in geography, culture and language; bringing Brazil and Africa into the hands of the child-reader.  Why do you think this benefits kids?

It is so important for everyone – adults and children alike - to be aware of what’s going on in the world. The reason I started to travel was to meet kids around the world who were the same age I was, but living totally different lives. Having readers get to know these kids too makes it more real, which in turn means it is more likely that they’ll get involved and find that spark they need to change the world.

"Lessons From a Street Kid" hit home with my daughter because last year we went to the Dominican Republic and she saw kids begging at car windows first hand.  We had our own 'kids helping kids' moment when we took her to a school to give treats to the students.  Her intention was: "let's give treats at school so that the kids will want to go to school and not hang out on the street".  What are your suggestions for ways in which kids can help other kids - at home and while traveling?

It’s great that your daughter wants to help other children through supporting and encouraging education. There are so many ways for youth to get involved through Free The Children and Me to We domestic programming, which empowers youth to help their peers around the world. By getting involved in campaigns and projects like Halloween for Hunger, Vow of Silence and Adopt a Village, students raise awareness and funds to help children overseas.

There are also many things students can do while they are traveling, including exactly what your daughter did. Giving to a local school or charity is a fantastic way to support the local community. We often suggest that while traveling overseas in a developing country to bring school supplies as a gift to local schools.

These books are great tools for parents & grandparents to discuss generosity, empathy and those less fortunate.  How can parents support their own kids' interest in child right activism?

Our parents were such a large influence in our own lives, although we often didn’t realize it until much later in life. Our mother used to do very simple things to show us that helping people, all people, is important. I remember she used to always carry spare change in her pocket. It wasn’t until much later I realized she put that change there on purpose. Any time we passed a homeless person, she always had change to give them. In the time it took for her to look through her pockets, she would always ask the person some questions. When I shied away, my mother would pull me closer to listen to the people’s stories. This early introduction into helping those who were less fortunate than me, and learning that they were people too, played a huge part in my interest in helping others. Our book The World Needs Your Kid has many other tips and information on supporting your children and helping them find their passion.

Name your top 3 suggestions for kids to "Be the Change"

At Free The Children we ascribe to the theory of Spark + Gift = Better World. Everyone has a gift to give, whether it’s a beautiful singing voice, razor sharp wit, incredible empathy or millions of other gifts. When that gift is combined with passion for a certain issue – that spark that stays with you – change is the only possible result.

Dream Big, Start Small. Find an issue in your school, neighbourhood, or town. Do some research, build a team and make an action plan. Come up with creative, crazy and fun ways to influence your issue. Take action, but then make sure to review. Make sure you follow through on your plans. And lastly, have fun! Stay motivated, and always remember why you got involved in the first place.

Give us a call! Getting kids involved is our specialty, and we have all resources kids need to find put their gift into action.