What is a hero

Prior to this week’s announcement of the 2015 winners of the Barron Prize, I asked my Facebook fans to share with me their ideas around heroes and heroism. Many of today’s popular movies and television shows focus on superheroes — people with exceptional strength, speed, or other super-human abilities — but I have always been interested in the stories of real-life heroes. I was overwhelmed by the number of responses you gave to me, and wanted to share some of your ideas which really captured the true essence of what it means to be called a “hero”.

Heroes Change the World

Many of your ideas around heroes, of course, centered around the fact that they often do good deeds; Matthew summed up much of the sentiment from my readers when he wrote that heroes “are people who help others regardless of their convenience.” Abigail also believes that heroes “love being able to help others even in the smallest of ways,” while Emma believes that the mark of a hero is someone who “fights for justice.

Heroes Motivate Us

If heroes show us anything, it’s how to become our best selves. They may do great things for the world, but to many of my readers the true mark of a hero is someone who inspires and motivates others to do their best. Katrina summed up many of the thoughts I heard from fans when she wrote that a hero “is someone who affected your life just when you needed them to, someone whose courage and perseverance inspires you to find those qualities within yourself. A hero not only saves you, but helps you save yourself.” I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Heroes Can Be Anyone

Finally, I was touched by how many of you shared stories of personal heroes in your life.  KaitlynnOwl spoke of her mother being one of her heroes — a sentiment I can relate to! – writing that her mother “has definitely inspired me to be a hero in my day-to-day life in how I treat people and in what I aspire to do in the future.” And Cheryl reaffirmed my belief that teachers and educators are true heroes when she wrote about her experiences: “a Sunday school teacher, a youth pastor, a band director, […] one thing I really admired about all of them was they wanted to invest in others. They gave up their time to help others grow. To me that takes sacrifice and also bravery. It takes guts to teach a class and to have so many people looking up to you.

For 15 years, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes has honored 25 outstanding young people annually. Each one of of these amazing kids are using the talents they have to make a difference in our world. In celebration of all the marvelous ideas you’ve shared with me about heroes, I invite you to read their stories. My highest hope is that other kids will read about their ideas, and maybe… just maybe… will feel inspired to do something positive, as well.