Kids! of the Month
Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!
Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things. We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements.
Amazing Kids! of the Month for August, 2003:
Amazing Young Education Reformer for Afghanistan!
Quote of the Month:
"My purpose at that moment seemed to share my education, opportunity and luxury with those who have none."
Dedication, the opportunity to make a difference, and compassion have led an amazing young 15 year old teen, Shawn Gruel, and his international team of volunteers to work to help improve access to quality education for young Afghan kids. We are proud to feature Shawn as our August Amazing Kid! of the Month.
Read about Shawn's fight for educational opportunities for the kids living in a land trampled by war and you may be inspired to find ways to help other kids less fortunate than yourself get a quality education too!
And don't forget, if you, or a young person (or persons!) you know, has an amazing project you are involved in, or a special skill, talent or ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids! know about it! Teachers are invited to nominate their entire classroom and the amazing projects they are working on too! Simply complete a nomination form for an Amazing Kid! of the Month award, or email us!
In August of 2001,
fifteen-year-old Shawn Grauel took a trip to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
Shawn was dazzled by its culture, people and the hardship its people faced.
Shawn’s mother, Terri Grauel, works to help Afghan women through a non-governmental
organization called PARSA ("Physiotherapy And Rehabilitation Support for
Afghanistan"). The organization works directly with the needy people
of Kabul, mainly women and children.
Because Afghanistan has gone through decades of war, the women and children not only lack access to a quality education, but are mostly poor and face many hardships. The country's people are so poor that many children in Afghanistan have been forced to work long hours in order to help support their struggling families.
Shawn Grauel was
touched by what he saw. He talked with many of the Kabul kids and
teens as he toured the city. Shawn was surprised to learn that even though
the kids lacked basic necessities for a proper education, such as school
supplies and adequate classrooms, the kids are still very hopeful that
they will have a bright future.
Shawn was inspired by the Afghan kids to try to make a difference and help insure that the Afghan kids do have that bright future they dream of:
"Afghanistan is now free of the Taliban and is a country in transition," he says. "The future of Afghanistan needs a helping hand for some 50,000 kids working on the street of Kabul without the prospect of an education."
With a pledge to change the bitter cycle of poverty and beaten dreams, Shawn started "Fast Track Kabul," a project to raise money and donations to purchase school supplies and help give Kabul kids access to a quality education.
"I noticed after
answering his question I had gained the interest of the Afghan sophomores,"
Shawn had noted after he had explained these plans to a group of Afghan
students. "I was on their level. Sophomore to sophomore halfway around
the world, a connection was made and a friendship is in the making."
Shawn and his mother
returned to their hometown, New York City and with her help, Shawn launched
his program by writing a letter to the President, Senator Barbara Boxer
and various magazine editors with details and the inspiration gathered
from his experiences. Eventually, the New York Times Upfront Magazine
offered Shawn Grauel the opportunity to write an article relating his experiences
and plans, which were published in January, 2003. Shawn later extracted
all his video footage and created a simple, yet touching account of the
children of Afghanistan’s troubles and the aspects of his program. Shawn
and his mother also raised much needed money from Global Youth Service
Day, where they enlisted the help of four yoga studios to donate their
proceeds from the week’s sessions.
youths from around the world began contributing their efforts. Belkis Wille,
a junior from Zurich, Switzerland, raised $10,000 from a fundraiser she
held in her home. Two young Afghan Canadian ladies named Homa Azimi and
Dewa Baqi also enlisted their time and efforts. And another Afghan American
from California named Homa Nader who has rallied her friends to help. Their
goal is to raise $10,000 to cover stipend for 25 kids for one year so they
can attend school instead of working. Currently, Shawn lectures at schools
in traveling distance from New York City and Northfield, Massachusetts.
"This [opportunity] will be good for Western kids to help Afghanistan so they can appreciate the opportunities that are available for them," as Shawn said.
You have much to be proud of, Shawn. Keep up the great work! You are an amazing inspiration to us all!
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