Innovative Kids Making a Difference

While many people sit back and moan about issues that bother them, some people work to make a difference.  It’s certainly commendable when adults go out of their way to start organizations for great causes – but it’s particularly noteworthy when busy students and young adults do so.  Here is a spotlight on a few of these amazing students and the organizations that they’ve founded.

Teen Screen

John Carney started the Teen Screen program while he was a sophomore at Dana Point High School. He wanted to raise awareness about the dangers of sun cancer and the damage that the sun can cause to the skin.  He hoped to encourage sports teams to make using sunscreen part of their daily routine. Today, his Teen Screen programs have gone national and they offer materials that schools and other organizations can use.  With a generous donation from the National Melanoma Awareness Project and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, the the Teen Screen chapters even have single-use sunscreen packets that they are able to hand out during presentations to schools, youth groups and other organizations.

Students Aiding Indigent Families

Ashley Gunn started a non-profit business that buys, renovates and sells abandoned homes to help families in need.  In 2006, she won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award by the National Federation of Independent Business and Visa USA.  She explained that she started the business when “I was moved by the poverty and despair all around and was determined to help address similar needs back home in the Jackson area. She said that she was following in the footsteps of her parents, who are self-employed investors.

Shannon’s After-School Reading Exchange

When Shannon McNamara was 13, her family took a trip to Peru to volunteer at an orphanage.  A few years later, they went to Africa and Shannon started her own nonprofit called Share (Shannon’s After-School Reading Exchange) to help educate African girls.  She goes to Tanzania every summer to help students there and she has, so far, collected 23,000 books and shipped them to the schools there.


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