Kid Heroes for the Planet
April 8, 2021
Ellen Nam and Karena Phan
On Earth Day, people around the world work to help our planet. But April 22 isn’t the only day this happens. Many people, including kids, protect the Earth all year long. Read about five inspiring Kid Heroes for the Planet, then decide how you will make a difference.
Saving the Frogs
Justin Sather (above), from Los Angeles, California, has always loved frogs. When he was 5, Justin learned that his favorite animal’s habitat was in danger. So he hopped into action. He started a group called For the Love of Frogs and sold toy frogs to raise money. Now 10, Justin has raised more than $20,000 to support frog conservation. For his efforts, he was a 2020 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honoree.
Justin told TIME for Kids that frogs are an “indicator species.” This means that when their habitat is threatened, they show signs of illness earlier than other animals. “Frogs are telling us our planet really needs your help,” Justin says. In addition to helping his favorite amphibians, Justin raises awareness of issues such as habitat destruction and ocean pollution. —By Karena Phan
When Aadya Joshi was 15, she converted a junk lot in her neighborhood, in Mumbai, India, into a garden. She used plants native to the area. Joshi says native species attract native insects and animals. “The way to fix the habitat isn’t just to plant any tree,” she says. “It’s to make sure you replace what was torn down from that spot.”
Now, at 18, Joshi is leading the Right Green, an organization she founded to educate people, including students, about growing native plants and maintaining healthy ecosystems. She also created a database of more than 2,000 plants in India. It’s a resource where people can learn which plant species are native to their area. Joshi is still adding to the database. “If you believe in something,” she says, “you really have to go out and do it yourself, no matter what someone tells you.” —K.P.
Jeremy Muchilwa, 13, and Michelle Muchilwa, 15, are siblings from Kisumu, Kenya. After participating in the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp in June 2020, they were inspired to fight plastic pollution in nearby Lake Victoria. They designed a campaign to bring the community together to pick up plastic waste.
With help from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, the sister-and-brother team explored sustainable ways to keep Lake Victoria clean. “We were so shy and scared because we didn’t think they were going to help us,” Jeremy says. “When we were welcomed, we were so shocked. They were so kind and helped us so much.”
The Muchilwas hope to find new ways to draw attention to plastic pollution. “When you are coming up with solutions, you need to have people talk to one another,” Michelle says. “Everyone can solve a problem. You can use your talents to create change.” —By Ellen Nam
While playing with a friend on Astroturf in Naples, Florida, 11-year-old Xavier Baquero-Iglesias noticed something: it was super hot, much hotter than real grass. Xavier used his knowledge of science to form a hypothesis about why this was so. Then he invented SoleX Turf. It uses the heat from Astroturf to make electricity.
Now 12, Xavier says his invention creates electricity in a way that’s less harmful to the environment than other energy sources. “I wanted to find a way to reduce the effects [of climate change], and the main way to do that is to find renewable energy sources,” he says. “I wanted to learn all that I could . . . to find solutions to our global problems.” —E.N.