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Kids Changing the World

Children Who Stood Up to Save Children

Children Who Stood Up to Save Children

Now a grown man, Craig is an active world traveler to help children

Photo by Free the Children Japan

Free The Children is the world's largest network of children helping children through education. Its mission is to free children from child labor and poverty, and it was founded by--you would never guess--a 12 year old!

It happened in 1995, 17 years ago. Canadian Craig Kielburger was looking for the comics in the newspaper one morning when an article caught his eye. The article was about a Pakistani boy the same age as Craig who escaped from slavery. The boy spoke out against child labor, but was shot and killed. It deeply troubled Craig to read this.

But it also moved him to action. When Craig told his friends that over 200 million children in the world are forced to do dangerous work, many responded by saying, "I never knew! What can I do to help?" So he and his friends started fighting to solve problems other children were facing, and Free The Children was born. "Free" has two meanings: to free children from poverty and child labor, but also to free children from the notion that they are powerless to make a difference.

Craig, then 13 years old, visited India.
(Photo by Free the Children Japan)

Before long, Free The Children grew into a global network of over 1 million children in 45 countries These children learn how to take action and incite change in the world. The money they collect is used to build schools in developing countries and support parents to gain incomes so their children don't have to work. By 2010, Free The Children had built over 650 schools and school rooms and given over 50,000 children an education.

Craig has received numerous awards in recognition for his work, including the State of the World Forum Award and the World's Children's Prize. Craig and Free The Children have also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. Now 29 years old, Craig is an active world traveler and is studying to get his master's degree in business administration.