Archive for the ‘SPOTLIGHT: Kids Making a Difference’ Category

Quvenzhane Wallis was experiencing something of an internal struggle when she found out she’d been nominated for an Academy Award early Thursday morning.

“I woke up, and (my mother) said, ‘You’ve been nominated! You’re nominated!'” recalls Quvenzhane (Kuh-VAHN-zuh-nay) of learning she’s up for the best actress prize at the 85th annual Oscars. “I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ But it was on the inside. It wasn’t on the outside.”

At 9 years old, the “Beasts of the Southern Wild” star is the youngest woman — ahem — girl to ever be nominated in the category.

(more…)

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Checkout the non-profit that inspired this video: ‪http://ow.ly/bMEHE

Logan West is the first contestant from Connecticut to win the Miss Teen USA title

Beginning when she was 12 years old, Logan West endured being relentlessly bullied for being a biracial child.

Six years later, West has made history as the first contestant from Connecticut to be crowned Miss Teen USA, an honor that she received during a ceremony in the Bahamas on Saturday. With her increased visibility, West looks to use her platform to continue speaking out against bullying after having spent the past two years talking to elementary and middle school students in Connecticut about the issue.

“This is a huge issue to me,’’ West told TODAY.com. “Students have been very receptive to the message because it’s a difference between being talked at by a teacher than hearing it from me. I’m a teenager, and I’ve been through it. I was bullied starting at 12 years old and look what I am now.’’

As a middle-schooler and high school freshman, West said she was bullied for “not acting her skin color.” She was punched, kicked and stabbed with umbrellas by a group of bullies until it escalated into a fight where she was suspended from school. During her suspension, she came up with her own anti-bullying program that she began promoting around the state after winning the Connecticut Outstanding Teen Pageant in 2010.

“I lost who Logan was when I was being bullied, but I found that participating in pageants helped me find ‘her’ again as well as gain the confidence to be a role model and voice for others,’’ she said. “During my reign, I hope to share with teens the importance of being true to yourself.’’

Click here to read more.

By Scott Stump
TODAY.com contributor

AP reports:

The birthday wish of a girl who wanted to raise $300 for clean water in Africa has been granted and then some, as donors gave more than $1 million after she died from a car crash.

Rachel Beckwith had been near her goal when she turned 9 on June 12, so her donation website closed. She was injured in a 13-car pileup on July 20 and taken off life support days later. A pastor arranged for the website to be reopened.

The “charity: water” nonprofit says more than 26,000 donations have come in by Friday. Founder Scott Harrison says some came from Africa, Brazil, Thailand and Europe.

Rachel’s mother, Samantha Paul, says she’s “in awe of the overwhelming love to take my daughter’s dream and make it a reality.”

To help out, go here NOW!

This little girl shows us the power of a giving and loving heart and how we all can make a difference in someone’s life. Not just that, we all should make a difference because one never knows when our life is gonna’ end.

Check this story on CNN:

For her 9th birthday last month, Rachel Beckwith told people that instead of giving her presents, they should donate to a charity providing clean water to families in developing nations.

The Seattle-area girl came up with $220, short of her $300 goal. She figured she’d try to raise more money next year.

Then came the crash.

Rachel died Saturday, taken off life support at a Seattle hospital three days after she and six other people were injured in a 14-vehicle pileup on Interstate 90 near her home in Bellevue, Washington, CNN affiliate KOMO reported.

But before her death, as word of Wednesday’s crash spread, so did news about Rachel’s fundraising wish. Her church took to Facebook, Twitter and its own website to promote her cause.

As of Monday afternoon, Rachel’s online fundraising page for the nonprofit group “charity: water” had landed more than $130,000 in donations, from more than 2,400 donors.

“Rest in peace knowing that your wish is helping people in ways that you could have never imagined,” one contributor wrote on the campaign site.

Read more here.

Jonathan Slye wanted to be a rock star. The wide-eyed 17-year-old spent part of last summer at a Christian rock camp learning how to be a lead singer. But by November he had another thought: he should throw an epic rock show in his hometown.

How hard could it be?

In just a few months, Slye – the son of a pastor – managed to land some of the biggest names in Christian hip-hop, rock and heavy metal to play at his Spring Jam Fest this Saturday in nearby Centreville, Virginia.

He did it through sheer will and a little faith – and at a fraction of the cost of a professional concert.

It helped that no one told him teenagers don’t throw major rock shows.

“I was just so fired up for Christ coming home from that camp I said, ‘All right God, what’s my purpose?” Slye said.

The theme verse for the camp was from Romans 8:28 in the New Testament: “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

When he got home, he said, he read and prayed over that verse every night for two months. Finally, around Halloween, clarity came: He would start a radio station for Christian rock, but not until after college.

Still, something was nagging at the high school sophomore.

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day’s biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers’ lives. It’s edited by CNN’s Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, with daily contributions from CNN’s worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.

John Shea graduated from college with high honors, accepted a job at a major company in New York, earning $60,000 a year, was offered admission to numerous prestigious law schools, and full-ride scholarships from several – all by the age of 17. CollegePlus! provides opportunity for students to exceed cultural expectations for young people by equipping them with tools that are essential for college success, but, more importantly, for success in life. Shea, a former CollegePlus! student, is a remarkable example of a young man who has defied cultural “norms” and achieved tremendous accomplishments as a result.

Wall Street Journal At Age 7?
John Shea did not start out exceptional. “When I was four or five, I was a very inattentive, chaotic student,” he admits. He had problems reading and hated to write. His mother began home schooling him in first grade, and she invested hours in teaching him to read. Surprisingly, Shea found he loved to read. In fact, he began reading the Wall Street Journal every day, as a seven-year-old. By the age of 12, he was reading War and Peace. He participated in an online literature class with high school and college students worldwide through Angelicum Academy, and was retroactively granted college credits for his work. At the age of 15, he had already earned 18 college credits.

Enter CollegePlus!
Shea’s mother attended a home school conference, heard a presentation of CollegePlus! and convinced him to consider it. “I like to get the most value for my effort,” Shea said. “When I heard I could be knocking off years of college for the same amount of work I was already doing, I got pretty excited.” As a 15-year-old, he jumped into CLEP-testing. “It was great! The flexibility was wonderful. I earned 60 credits’ worth of CLEPs in six months.” When the time came for Shea to transfer his credits to Thomas Edison State College, he was surprised that they accepted all 80+ credits. “By that time, I had developed a very focused, very efficient method of studying. I could study a subject for a day or two, and have a good grasp of the material.” Speed-reading and the memory techniques he had learned in the early stages of CollegePlus! served to give him exceptional advantages in studying for his TESC courses. Shea graduated in the spring of 2007, as a 17-year-old bachelor’s holder. He received the Arnold Fletcher award for “exceptional achievement in independent learning,” along with a 4.0 GPA.

As he assessed his future options, Shea said he realized that “I really had a passion for debate, I liked to read, I enjoyed public speaking and working with people.” This combination caused him to consider law as the path God had chosen for him. His next step was taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). He received an excellent score, in the 98th percentile. However, he chose not to jump into more school right away.

Success in the Workplace
Instead, he began looking for valuable work experience. The opportunity to work in Manhattan at Thomson Reuters Markets presented itself, and he interviewed for the position. “All the interviewer wanted to see was that I had a bachelor’s. He cared more about my smile, my work ethic, and that I was trustworthy, than which institute I graduated from.” He was offered a job at Thomson Reuters making $60,000 a year. “As a 17-year-old kid, that was pretty exciting!” Shea knew very little about accounting, but he was now a balance sheet analyst. He worked hard – implementing speed-reading and memory techniques – to learn “fairly intense revenue accounting, in about a month’s time.” Shea excelled in his job, and used creative problem-solving ideas to save his company time and money. College graduates in their mid- to late-twenties interned for Thomson Reuters, and looked up to him because he had a job at their “dream company.” They attended Ivy League colleges, and most had graduated at the tops of their classes. “These were people who, by conventional wisdom, had achieved the highest education possible; yet, they were coming to me for advice … I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was only 17,” Shea said.

Law School
He chose to attend Ave Maria School of Law, on a full scholarship, “because of their focus on core values, Christian principles, and the Natural Law tradition … I felt that God was calling me to be His lawyer, not just any lawyer, and Ave Maria seemed like a perfect fit for that goal.” Shea has finished his first year of law school, 6th in his class of 124, and in two years, he’ll be graduating with his doctorate at the same time most students are just finishing their undergraduate degrees. For now, he is walking the path God has marked out for him, and is using his talents for God’s glory.

Think Outside the Box!
“Don’t be bound to the expectations of the culture,” Shea encourages, “Try not to compare yourself to other people your age; instead, compare yourself to those you want to be like.” Those who work hard, display strong character, and set themselves apart from a mediocre generation of young people are those who will excel in all that they do. John Shea is a perfect example of this, and his young life testifies to the faithfulness of God in the lives of those who dedicate themselves to Him.