We need heroes today more than ever — not celebrities, but real heroes. And while we tend to hear a lot about entertainers, athletes, and media moguls in the headlines, the world often seems to ignore the extraordinary work done every day by people just like you and me. These are the people not out for fame, but folks who see a need within their community and are driven to make a positive change. The Barron Prize is about celebrating some of those real heroes in our communities: young people with deeply valuable inner qualities such as compassion, perseverance, and humility, whose work to improve their communities can inspire others.
It was because I was so inspired by the extraordinary and hard-working young people doing great things for others that I established the Barron Prize back in 2001. Each year, the prize honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive impact on people, their communities, and the environment. And so, it is my honor announce the truly inspiring winners of the 2016 Barron Prize:
Allison, age 18, of California, who founded Purses for Primates, a non-profit that has raised over $27,000 to protect orangutans and their shrinking habitat.
Anurudh, age 16, of Maryland, who invented the VAXXWAGON, a wheel-powered cooling system that keeps vaccines viable during the final stages of transport to remote locations.
Delaney, age 16, of Florida, who founded The Sink or Swim Project to educate people about global warming and sea level rise. She has made presentations to nearly 10,000 people and has authored three children’s books about climate change.
Hannah, age 15, of Florida, who invented a device that converts the kinetic energy of ocean tides or any moving body of water into usable electricity. Her inexpensive BEACON device is designed to help people in developing countries.
Martin, age 16, of New York, who created Save the Seals, a campaign to raise awareness about the plight of harp seal pups and the Arctic ecosystem as a whole. He has raised nearly $17,000 for his cause by selling seal-themed crafts.
Maya, age 17, of Ontario, who created 440PPM, a documentary film that tells the story of her expedition to the Arctic where she witnessed climate change first hand.
Meghana, age 17, of California, who founded Limbs with Love, a non-profit that creates and provides 3D-printed prosthetic hands free-of-charge to children in need all over the world.
Pooja, age 18, of California, who created For a Change, Defend, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating gender violence and empowering young girls and women. Trained in Taekwondo and street fighting, she has developed a self-defense curriculum and has used it to train over 800 women and girls in the slums and rural villages of India.
Rachel, age 12, of Kentucky, who has worked tirelessly for more than two years to raise $85,000 of the $100,000 needed to build a handicapped accessible playground in her community to benefit children and wounded veterans.
Raghav, age 14, of California, who invented SmartWalk, a 21-century version of the white cane used by the visually impaired that includes electronic “eyes” to better help the blind navigate obstacles.
Riley, age 15, of California, who created Rainbow Pack, a non-profit that has gifted over 9,500 new backpacks filled with school supplies to Los Angeles elementary school students in need.
Ryan, age 17, of Connecticut, who founded TechCorps: Geeks for Good to teach students in the developing world and in impoverished areas of the U.S. how to use off-the-shelf parts to build low-cost computers for their schools.
Samantha, age 19, of Connecticut, who founded SHIFT Scoliosis, a non-profit committed to eliminating the late diagnosis of scoliosis. She and her team have screened over 4,000 underserved children and have taught over 10,000 adults about the signs of the disease.
Story, age 17, of Washington, who created Kids4Wolves to educate young people about wolves and to promote coexistence between wolf advocates and those who oppose wolf recovery.
Xerxes, age 17, of New York, who led a four-year project to mitigate water contamination caused by a farm’s animal waste leaching into New York City’s public reservoir system.