Involved Kids

By , July 27, 2007 7:50 am

I may be unplugged at home, but here at my Dad’s house there is TV. On Tuesday evening I saw a segment on CNN called CNN Heroes. It featured a 14 year-old girl from Tampa, Florida named Savannah Walters who has taken it upon herself to educate drivers about the gasoline that is wasted by underinflated tires. Click here to watch. Here is also another portion of the interview with Savannah that did not make it to the brief CNN Heroes clip.

Savannah has launched educational campaigns in 15 states (Pump ’em Up) and passed out 10,000 donated tire gauges! Simply by properly inflating our tires, we could easily collectively save a huge amount of gas. What an easy way to make an enormous positive impact on the environment!

What really struck me about this story however, was how this young girl (9 years-old at the time she began her crusade) simply decided that something needed to be done, AND DID IT! Why is it so hard for us grownups to take action when we see a need? Most adults can’t get it together to do this (myself included).

Savannah fell in love with the Arctic after her second grade class did an in-depth project about it. Saving the Arctic has been her passion ever since.

One day, environmental activist Lenny Kohm received a phone call from 9 year-old Savanna who said the “she wanted to call him and her Mom said it was OK.” He told her about the underinflated tire issue and her response was “So why don’t people pump them up?” Lenny said, “So why don’t you tell them to?” And she did.Perhaps children retain a simple logic, unadulterated by negativity, “baggage” and life’s other complications. Maybe that is why Savannah could do what so few of us adults can do.

As parents I believe that we should encourage that urge to take action when we see the spark in our children. Savannah’s parents obviously did it. I must remember this and follow it through rather than dismiss it and send them outside to play, by far the “easier” short-term choice.

Several months ago my children and I got into a conversation about how there are many people in the world who do not have enough to eat. In fact there are many people in our area who do not have enough to eat. This was an unfathomable concept for my kids.

I told them about our town soup kitchen and how local people donate food and volunteer to help feed the hungry of the community. My 6 year-old daughter said she wanted to go help too. I said that I would take her there to volunteer one day. But, I am ashamed to say that I have not yet done it despite frequent requests from her that we do so.

When I return from vacation I must remember Savannah. If I want my children to make a difference in this world then I must encourage them to follow their altruistic urges as they arise. My daughter and I will go to the soup kitchen and she will see families (many with children like her) who do not have enough to eat. Who knows where that might lead. She may not become the next Savannah, but at least she will have an understanding of other people’s lives and some of the many problems of this world that urgently need changing.For more information on starting your own Pump’em Up Chapter or hosting an event, please check out the

Pump’em Up website.

Thanks to and photographer Mary Vogt for this photo.

4 Responses to “Involved Kids”

  1. Jenny says:

    What an amazing girl Savannah is. My daughter is 2 1/2, and I’m already trying to figure out how to cultivate those altruistic motives you mentioned. So far, I’ve decided the best way for her to learn is by example, and I need to do a better job of that. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. CelticMommy says:

    I love the ability of children to just “do it” and not have all the hang-ups many of us adults have. I saw a similar type of piece on the Sundance channel’s show “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” about a boy who is buying up pieces of rainforest because he loves animals and sees this as a way to ensure that their homeland is protected. I love optimism!
    P.S. Here’s a link to that page:

  3. Andamom says:

    We just had our tire pressure checked when going for an oil change — and were told that it should be 32 — but he set it for 30 because of our upcoming long trip and said that the tires would swell from 30 to 32 …but didn’t want them to go from 32+.

    As for kids, you are absolutely right … I was very motivated to end Apartheid growing up. (I’ll post about this in the future…) My daughter doesn’t seem to have the same motivation to work on a specific cause though. We’ve reviewed countless to try to get her buy in… I’m hoping that it will happen at some point though. I think that you can just continue to offer opportunities to children to understand situations– but you cannot push them to take the cause to heart. Of course, I’ll take any suggestions…

  4. […] decided to take it upon herself to solve a problem and make a difference in the world. See my post: Involved Kids . In this post, I mention how much easier it seems for children and young people to take action when […]

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