September 19, 2018

On today's show, we take a moment to remember one of our Peace Fund Heroes, Claire Wineland, who was taken from us much too early.  Adrian brings us an interview with Peter Blackwell, the Executive Director of Reach Out, a nonprofit in London.  Later in the show Bruce Gale talks with this week's Kid Hero, Jelani Jones.

There are 1.8 billion young people in the world today, representing a staggering amount of human potential. Yet too many of them are trapped in poverty, with few opportunities to learn or to earn a decent living. 

Adolescence is a major transition period and an important window of opportunity to shape the healthy and successful development of future generations.

Where poverty is found, so too, is academic struggle.  In schools with some of the highest concentrations of poverty and minority children, students are a third as likely to pass state exams as students at schools of higher affluence. And at several of such high schools, they’re half as likely to graduate.

Hope is a powerful thing. Numerous studies have shown that youth from lower socioeconomic status often view the future as containing more negative events than positive ones.  There is a sense of helplessness...children from disadvantaged backgrounds have low expectations about future outcomes. 

If students think failure or low performance is likely, they'll probably not bother to try. Similarly, if they think they aren't smart enough and can't succeed, they'll probably not put out any effort.

Remembering Claire Wineland
Remembering Claire Wineland

Ever since our fourth episode of Peace Fund Radio, we've been bringing you the stories of our Heroes of the Week -- young people doing big things in their own communities and beyond to Protect, Educate, and Aid Children Everywhere. So many of our Heroes founded their charities and organizations because they were sick, and they wanted to raise money and awareness for kids who suffered the same ailments. 

Today, we must sadly report that one such Hero of the Week has passed away.

When Claire Wineland was born, she was given 5 years to live. At age 10, she was told she wouldn't make it to 13. At 13, she was told she'd be gone before 18, and then, at 18, that she'd never make it to 19.

On September 2, after suffering complications from her recent lung transplant operation, Claire lost her lifelong battle with Cystic Fibrosis -- a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up in the lungs and other organs, which complicates breathing and other bodily functions over time. Claire was 21 years old, and she used her time here to deliver hope and comfort to countless children.

Throughout her life, Claire endured painful surgeries, painful recoveries, painful treatments, and constant pain in between. But she turned that pain into purpose, and turned her illness into inspiration. After impossibly surviving a blood infection that put her into a three-week coma at age 13, Claire got tired of being told she wouldn't make it... and became a champion for other kids with Cystic Fibrosis who were hurting and afraid.

Claire created Claire's Place Foundation, as a resource for young Cystic Fibrosis sufferers and their families. With frank humor, brutal honesty, infinite heart, and boundless charisma, Claire produced videos about all aspects of living with a chronic illness -- everything from navigating lengthy hospital stays to coping with the body-image issues associated with the ravaging physical effects that chronic illnesses can cause. Her message reached millions of viewers, and her courage will never be forgotten.

If you'd like to see Claire's videos, or to make a donation in Claire's memory to Cystic Fibrosis research, please visit Claires PlaceFoundation. Even heroes fall. But the legacies they leave, and the lives they've touched, live on.  @clairesplace1

Adrian with Peter Blackwell of Reach Out
Adrian with Peter Blackwell of Reach Out

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can experience low confidence, low aspirations and low attainment, and are far less likely to achieve their education potential.  Reach Out exists to change this.  @ReachOutMentoring

Reach Out is a mentoring charity working with young people in disadvantaged areas to raise aspirations and help them grow in character and attainment. They do this through one-to-one mentoring with positive role models and team activities, to promote leadership, trust and responsibility.

What started out as an informal homework club in 1994 has now developed into the largest mentoring charity in the UK. Right from the beginning they’ve focused on developing character and improving attainment through partnering with schools to run one to one mentoring and team activities in after school clubs.

While in London this summer, Adrian had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Peter Blackwell, the Executive Director of Reach Out.

Jelani Jones
Jelani Jones

Ten-year-old Jelani Jones from Fredericksburg, Virginia, is the owner of Lani Boo Bath, a company that creates and sells natural bath products. @laniboobath

It all started when a Saturday trip to the local farmers market sparked a business idea. When her favorite vendor invited her to a class on how to make bath products, Jelani jumped at the chance. In the class, she learned how to make a number of products, such as bath bombs, a hard-packed mixture of dry ingredients that foams when wet.  After her parents helped cover the start-up cost of ingredients, the young entrepreneur was able to make her first batch of bath bombs. Jelani grew the company through the power of social media.  She ships her products as far as the North Pole and has aspirations to grow her business even further.  She has been interviewed on the Harry Connick Jr. show.  

The straight “A” student and entrepreneur has learned the importance of time management and has a schedule to keep her days organized. Lani Boo Bath inspires young girls with big dreams.  Jelani likes to refer to herself as the She E O of her company.  She's big on “girls rule”.  

In today’s Kid Hero segment, Bruce Gale talks with Jelani about her journey.