One extraordinary 14-year-old New Hampshire boy is showing that kids have the power to change the world.
Dylan Mahalingam traveled to India with his parents every few years when he was little. At age 8 he was struck by the poverty he saw, and he knew he wanted to help:
I was witnessing first hand the realities of hunger and poverty. I saw children working for a living instead of attending schools. I saw families not being able to eat regular meals on a daily basis. I saw children suffering just because they could not afford a life saving vaccine that cost less than a quarter.
In 2004, Mahalingam started Lil’ MDGs as a way for kids to get involved in working toward the UN Millennium Development Goals for fighting extreme poverty. Six years later, Lil’ MDGs has mobilized children from 34 states in America and almost 40 countries
The group works with schools around the world distributing school supplies, medicine, and support to communities in need. Thanks to funding from grants and cooperation from school systems, the group has helped thousands of children who are living in poverty both here in the U.S. and abroad. You can check out some of their accomplishments on the Lil’ MDGs website.
The group’s Green Your Lives project promotes greener lifestyle choices within the school system focusing on energy conservation, waste reduction, and recycling. They partnered with the Derry Cooperative School District to educate students and staff on ways to green their lives and are seeing a difference already! They’ve reduced paper output by about 40%; promoted using 100% recycled paper in all cases; defaulted all printers to print double side; and gotten students and teachers to power down rooms and computers nearly 100% of the time when not in use.
Mahalingam is documenting his story through Changents. If you want to get involved, they’re now a participating volunteer organization in Disney’s Give a Day, Get a Disney Day program, and they’re looking for volunteers. You can learn more on their website.