Child’s play

Cape Town market © Natalia Martinez

I found out today about the Children of War Foundation from this article in the LA Times that was forwarded to me by a friend who works at the Childrens Hospital out there. The article is short and written by the Steve Lopez, the same journalist on which the movie “The Soloist” is based. More than anything else, it prompted me to look at the Foundation’s website and think about how much of the world’s progress hinges on the education, the safety, the health of the children that populate it. Even more so because by “education” I don’t just mean purely the academic kind – although the importance of that is far from disputed – but rather an introduction to the globalized world, to different philosophies, to a deinstitutionalization of hatred and a focus on dialogue and peace when appropriate. I’m much more a just-war theory adherent than a pacifist, so I don’t mean this to sound naive, but the solutions to many of the world’s challenges lie with building up a generation that is ready to change them. Not just an elite motivated and educated few, but rather a mass of more empowered youth to work on those same issues from the bottom up.

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children” – Mahatma Gandhi

On that note, I’m a believer of idea contagion (a bit a la Malcolm Gladwell), so here is a great youth-powered project I wanted to share: Soccket!! It was developed by three recent Harvard College graduates and is essentially a soccer ball that gets charged capturing energy while it is in play. Fully charged, it can be used as a battery and power a lamp. The prototypes are being tested across Africa this year and represent an amazing opportunity for children and families to have light in their home.  Despite my marginal jealousy at having accomplished nothing comparable in 24 years of life, here is a big, resounding YES!! for young people innovating!


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