Kid Heroes for the Planet

April 13, 2018
LOUI BREZZELL

You don’t have to be a superhero to help the environment. Even small, simple actions can add up to big change. People around the world will celebrate Earth Day on April 22. But anyone—including kids—can work to help the Earth at any time. TFK talked to a few kids about how they are protecting the planet. Let them inspire you!

Raising Her Voice

Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny has another nickname: Little Miss Flint. Mari, 10, lives in Flint, Michigan. Flint residents have been without clean drinking water since 2014. That is when the water became polluted with lead. Children in Flint have suffered from health problems due to lead poisoning.

“We knew that the water wasn’t good,” Mari told TFK Kid Reporter Gitanjali Rao. “But we had no idea just how bad it was.”

Mari has worked hard to spread awareness of Flint’s water crisis by organizing fundraisers and other events. “Never let anyone tell you that your voice doesn’t matter,” Mari says.

Testing the Water

DISCOVERY EDUCATION

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, made TFK Kid Reporter Gitanjali Rao, 12, wonder about her own water supply. She watched her parents test the tap water at home in Lone Tree, Colorado. “I realized that testing lead levels in water is not easy,” Gitanjali told TFK. “I wanted to do something about it.”

Her solution? Tethys. The device (pictured) is a cheap and easy way to test water quality. Users simply dip a sensor in water. A smartphone app can tell if the water contains lead.

Tethys earned Gitanjali the top prize in the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Ryan Recycles

COURTESY RYAN'S RECYCLING

At age 3, Ryan Hickman went with his dad to a recycling center near his home, in Orange County, California. The next day, Ryan began collecting recyclables from neighbors. Soon, Ryan’s Recycling Company was born. “Recycling keeps bottles and cans out of the ocean,” Ryan, now 8, told TFK, “so animals don’t get sick [from them] and die.”

So far, Ryan has helped customers recycle 320,000 bottles and cans. He has also donated nearly $6,000 to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Recently, Ryan challenged his fans: Recycle 300,000 cans and bottles by May 1. To join Ryan’s recycling campaign, visit ryansrecycling.com.

Cheetah Champ

CARINE BOEKEE

Joris Hutchison, 11, has always loved cheetahs. When he learned that the big cats might become extinct in his lifetime, he set out to help protect them. Joris began raising money. He sold T-shirts, flowers, and lemonade. He held garage sales and skating parties.

So far, Joris has raised more than $14,000. The money goes to a wildlife sanctuary in Namibia, a country in Africa. It is used to buy special collars. The collars track the cheetahs. This helps prevent the animals from being killed. Joris has spent three summers volunteering at the sanctuary. “I’m just a normal kid who decided to do something about a problem,” Joris told TFK Kid Reporter Christopher Nguyen.