In the late 1980's a young American girl became the co-founder of the Save the Animals Club. The mission was simple: to save ALL the animals that were on the critically endangered list.She was in Year 3. The girl's parents thought the idea was sweet. They watched her and her friend set up lemonade stands to raise money and let them have club meetings in their basements, inviting all of their friends. Her parents smiled and commented how sweet and caring she was. They shared cute stories with their friends of how proud they were that their daughter wanted to save the world.No extra provisions were made to help her achieve her goal but despite that the spirit of compassion never extinguished. The girl grew and grew; reading every Jane Goodall book and standing on soap boxes preaching about conservation and compassion towards all humankind. She admired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Theresa and Ghandi. She looked up to actresses such as Audrey Hepburn and Betty White who were witty and used their fame to make a difference in the world for human and animal-kind. She volunteered in animal shelters, homeless shelters and took courses in Wildlife Biology and Child & Family Development at university. She advocated for the Invisible Children of Africa and donated what she could to help others in need.
That girl was me. Of course, I am a lot older now, but my heart has not changed and the spirit of that little girl still lives inside. I care about this Earth just as much as I did then. In 2009, my hubby and I were blessed with the arrival of our first child, Lachlan. His first glimpse of the world seemed so intense. The moment he was put onto my chest he stared at me and then began twisting his head to look at the whole room with intrigue. I had seen a lot of newborns in my line of work, but none that were as alert and interested in the surroundings as much as he was. I told my husband, that our little boy was unique and going to be someone very special in this world.
Today, Lachlan has lived up to that first assumption. He's a highly gifted and sensitive child. He thinks of others and is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs. One night while reading a book about whales, we came to the last page that discussed Japanese whaling, which was very disturbing for him, as it would be for any pre-schooler. Many questions followed about "why do people do this?" and "what happens to the whales?" I answered his heartfelt questions in which he replied, "what can WE do about it?" We talked about what we could do to save whales in general: keeping the oceans clean, writing to politicians, educating friends and family and supporting conservation groups. Right away, Lachlan came up with the idea to raise money to donate to a marine charity. As his birthday was around the corner, he asked if he could forfeit gifts from his friends and instead request for donations instead. With help from his friends and family, Lachlan raised nearly $300 which was donated to the Australian Marine Conservation Society on his 3rd birthday. He was so chuffed! I knew I couldn't just sit there and think, "oh, isn't this sweet." I needed to do more. It was evident that his passion was true and heart felt. What would happen if I fanned the flame allowing his passion to grow and spread to others?
A year later (2014), Lachlan and I were sitting around the house on Friday afternoon talking about ecosystems and endangered animals. The WA Shark Cull was being implemented that weekend and we were both really disheartened about it. As always, it became a discussion about what we can do. This time it became evident in the conversation that although one person's voice means a lot, many voices are more noticeable. We thought that with so many issues in the world that need attention, wouldn't it be nice to find support from other children in our area? Perhaps there would be others with the same passion and drive to make this world a better place but they just need the forum and encouragement to do so. Together we brain-stormed and within an hour came up with Children Making a Difference, a.k.a. Children MAD.
We want Children MAD to inspire others and not just provide a safe and educational forum for Lachlan and his younger sister and brother but for the whole community. Today, more than ever young children and youth need to feel connected to the world they live in. It is only natural for the human species to want to feel a sense of belonging. We believe that if we can help establish this at a young age, children will become self respecting adults and contributing citizens to society who strive to make the world a better place.