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Update :: Children Helping Children

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9 years ago in YES! …

we reported on 16-year-old Craig Kielburger who, at age 12, got together with some friends to form Free The Children (FTC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to abolishing child labor worldwide (see YES! Fall 1999). Kielburger’s youth, passion and dedication helped his work gain major media attention in both the United States and Canada, his home country. Inspired by Kielburger, young people around the world started FTC chapters and created their own campaigns for more humane labor practices.

Today …

Craig Kielburger, who started Free the Children at age 12, visits a classroom in Kenya. Photo courtesy
Craig Kielburger, who started Free the Children at age 12, visits a classroom in Kenya.
Photo courtesy

Watch a film clip from the documentary “It Takes a Child,” the story of how Craig Kielburger started his journey.

Free The Children is the world’s largest network of children helping children with over 1 million youth involved worldwide. FTC’s programs in developing countries address a wide variety of problems, from education to health to sanitation. The organization recently built its 500th school and estimates more than 50,000 children attend these schools daily.

Most recently, FTC and Oprah’s Angel Network launched a joint project called O Ambassadors. Through the program, groups of students raise funds and awareness about development projects around the world. The inaugural group of O Ambassadors went to Kenya to build a school with funds they raised. The students returned inspired to make even more changes; they started by raising $5,000 to build a well in the community they visited.

FTC continues to prove that youth doesn’t prevent people from making a significant change in the world. Most of the FTC staff is under 30 years old and more than 60 percent of the FTC budget comes from fundraisers organized by youth.

Kielburger serves as the chair of Free the Children, while his brother Marc is the chief executive director. Now 25, Kielburger has earned a degree from the University of Toronto and is a student in the Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program. Kielburger has traveled to more than 50 countries, received four honorary doctorates, written bestselling books, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times.

Layla Aslani wrote this article as part of Purple America, the Fall 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Layla Aslani is a YES! editorial intern.

Interested?  See our original story at It’s one of more than 2,000 YES! Magazine articles in our online archives.

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