7-Year-Old Boy Raises $200,000 for Haiti

Seven-year-old Charlie Simpson has raised more than $195,000 for the Haiti earthquake.

Money raised by Simpson will go towards UNICEF’s Haiti Earthquake Children’s Appeal which will provide water, sanitation, education, nutrition as well as supporting child protection.

Simpson from Fulham, West London, had only hoped to raise $800 for UNICEF’s earthquake appeal by cycling eight kilometers (five miles) around a local park.

“My name is Charlie Simpson. I want to do a sponsored bike ride for Haiti because there was a big earthquake and loads of people have lost their lives,” said Simpson on his JustGiving page, a fundraising site which launched his efforts. “I want to make some money to buy food, water and tents for everyone in Haiti,” he said. And with that simple call, messages of support flooded the site.

More donations began pouring in after the story caught the attention of the British media – with many cheering Simpson past the £100,000 mark. Even the British Prime, Minister Gordon Brown, is spreading the message. His “Downing Street” Twitter alias said: “Amazed by response to the great fundraising efforts of 7-yr-old Charlie Simpson for the people of Haiti.”

David Bull, UNICEF UK executive director, described Simpson’s efforts as “very bold and innovative…On behalf of the many children in Haiti, I thank Charlie for his effort.”

Source: http://www.wyclefjean.wordpress.com


Escaping Through Education

"I'm going to be the first one in my family to get a secondary education."

"I'm going to be the first one in my family to get a secondary education." -Chancey

A high school honor student and the NFL’s highest-paid defensive back stroll down the destitute streets of Skid Row. Seventeen-year-old Kenneth Chancey is giving a tour to Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders’ All-Pro cornerback worth $45 million, showing the NFL star the streets that he and his sister used to walk to get to school while living in a Skid Row homeless shelter. Prostitutes, addicts and drug dealers scatter.

It is Kenneth’s inner strength and his love for education that have brought together this high school class president and NFL star. “The things he’s been through are so big and so severe — they were threatening our lives and throwing things at us on Skid Row” Asomugha said later. But it doesn’t bother him. “His potential meter is at 1,000 right now.”

Even while Kenneth lived on Skid Row, he dreamed of attending Harvard to become a neurosurgeon. When Asomugha saw Kenneth’s story on CNN, he wanted to help. He runs a foundation, the Asomugha College Tour for Scholars that takes talented inner-city kids on tours of college campuses they otherwise would never be able to see. He’s helped get 25 teens into college over the last four years. “I’m thankful to be able to give back,” Asomugha said.

Asomugha came from a family where education was stressed from day one. He remembers asking his mom as a boy, “Can I have some ice cream?” “No,” she responded. “You haven’t finished your homework.” “I’d say, ‘but I’m 3!'” Asomugha’s sister is a pediatrician, his mother holds a doctorate. Two other siblings have secondary degrees. The football star, who is the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history, has a degree in finance from the University of California-Berkeley.

On this day, he’s come to tell Kenneth that he will be among the 16 students traveling in the spring to visit schools in Washington, D.C., a week long all expenses paid trip.  Asomugha is hoping that Obama might be willing to meet up with them at some point during this special trip. Hours before the Skid Row tour, Asomugha traveled to Hollywood’s Helen Bernstein High School, where Kenneth is a starting running back in his senior year. They met at the school’s football stadium, where Asomugha told Kenneth in person.

Kenneth is energized. “I’m going to be the first one in my family to get a secondary education,” he told Asomugha. “And everyone will follow you,” his father added.

Kenneth spent his sixth-grade year living in a van with his mother and stepfather. His sister once was beaten up by someone who wanted her shirt. Kenneth was held up at gunpoint for his laptop. He refused to hand it over because his grandmother bought it for him.  Outside Kenneth’s earshot, the NFL star talked about how the teen is an inspiration, doing all the right things to achieve greatness in life. “You don’t hear about guys like Kenneth,” Asomugha said. “When you have your back against the wall and you’re trying to fight and there are so many things — so many obstacles — against you but you’re still keeping your head above the water like he’s doing … the sky’s the limit.”

On the tour at Skid Row, Kenneth took Asomugha to the shelter’s rooftop. It’s a million-dollar view of the Los Angeles skyline. It’s where Kenneth studied. It’s also where he learned his biggest lesson: to always keep his head up. The student and the football player leaned over the building’s ledge. Down below, drug deals were being made. “Anytime you look down over the ledge, you start to see the negative,” Asomugha said. “When you keep your head up, you’re seeing all the positive.”

To watch the CNN coverage of the original and follow-up video visit: http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/06/24/homeless.to.harvard/index.html#cnnSTCVideo


Texting Brings Aid for Haiti

Cell-phone text messaging is being used to help victims of the deadly Haiti quake in probably the fastest way possible. Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean has helped raise more than $1 million in a joint effort with the Give on the Go campaign, according to the Los Angeles Times. The American Red Cross said it had brought in more than $8 million using the same technique.  “This is the first time there has been a major disaster when this type of service has been widely available,” says Yéle Haiti’s executive director, Hugh Locke, whose nonprofit will use the funds to send nutrition bars, candles, hand-cranked flashlights and blankets to Haiti on two FedEx planes Friday.

The technique for texting a donation is pretty fast and simple: Enter a five- or six-digit code into your cell phone, along with a single word in the body of the text, such as Haiti. The donation amount is added to your next phone bill.

“Our goal is to raise $1 million per day for the sufferers of this catastrophe,” the chairman of the Miami-based Give on the Go campaign, Matt McKenna, told the L.A. Times.  Jean, through his Twitter account, encouraged his followers to donate $5 to Yéle Haiti by sending a text message of “Yéle” to 501501, with the $5 being charged to the donor’s cell phone bill. “Your money will help with relief efforts,” Jean’s message to his 1.4 million followers read. “They need our help.”

AT&T said $10 donations can be sent to the Red Cross International Relief Fund by typing HAITI and sending it to 90999. A confirmation message will arrive within a few minutes, standard text messaging rates will apply, and 100 percent of the money donated will be passed on to the Red Cross.

Source: http://www.gnn.com

Boy Paints like Old Master

British Child Prodigy Compared to Picasso

His pictures cost $1500 and have made him over $50,000, there are over 600 people on a waiting list to buy them, and his second exhibition sold out in 14 minutes. What’s even more impressive is that this artist named Kieron Williamson is only seven years old!

It all began almost by accident. Just two years ago, a serious accident forced Kieron’s dad Keith to stop working as an electrician. Keith turned his hobby – collecting art – into an occupation. Confined to an apartment with no garden and surrounded by paintings, Kieron decided to take up drawing. Father and son learning about art together.

At first, Kieron’s art was pretty much like any other five-year-old’s. But he quickly progressed and was soon asking questions that his parents couldn’t answer. “Kieron wanted to know the technicalities of art and how to put a painting together,” says Michelle. One local artist, Carol Ann Pennington, offered him some tips. Since then, he has had lessons with other Norfolk-based painters, including Brian Ryder and his favorite, Tony Garner.

Garner, a professional artist, has taught more than 1,000 adults over the last few decades and Kieron, he says, is head and shoulders above everyone. “He doesn’t say very much, he doesn’t ask very much, he just looks. He’s a very visual learner…It might be a bit naive at the moment but there’s a lovely freshness about what he does. The confidence that this little chap has got – he just doesn’t see any danger.”

Kieron explains he is sticking to landscapes for now, but plans to paint a portrait of his 98-year-old grandmother when she turns 100. What does he think about people spending so much money on his paintings? “Really good.”

Kieron’s tips for landscape painting:

1 “Go on holiday to where you really want to go, and be inspired.”

2 “Start with acrylics, then watercolours, then pastels and then oils.”

3 “When you set out to do a landscape, “start with the sky first, top to bottom.”

4 “When you do distance, it’s lighter, and when you do foreground it comes darker.”

5 “If you’re doing a figure in the winter, do a brown head, leave a small gap, do a blue jacket and brown legs. Then with the gap get a red pastel and do a flick of red so it looks like a scarf.”

6 “Keep on painting.”

Source: http://www.happynews.com

Starbucks Love Project Promotes Global Sing Along

In support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Starbucks organized a “Global Sing Along” that took place simultaneously around the globe on Monday, December 7th.

At exactly 8:30 a.m. ET on that day, musicians worldwide joined together in a performance of The Beatles classic “All You Need Is Love.” Now, anyone is able to upload their own version of “All You Need Is Love” to the Starbucks Love Project site, with money donated to the Global Fund for each video. This project is the culmination of a partnership between (RED) and Starbucks that started over a year ago. Since that time, seven million daily doses of anti-retroviral AIDS medication have been distributed via the sale of (RED) products through Starbucks.

Here is the finished product:

Bionic Fingers to the Rescue

Frank Hrabanek works with occupational therapist Hannah Hega in Toronto, Dec.2, 2009.

Frank Hrabanek works with occupational therapist Hannah Hega in Toronto, Dec.2, 2009.

Even though he is 60, one of Frank Hrabanek’s biggest thrills these days is being able to tie his shoelaces by himself.  Until a short time ago, this two-handed task would have been impossible for Hrabanek, who lost all four fingers on his dominant left hand following an industrial accident in June of 2007. But two months ago, he was fitted with a prosthesis featuring what are being called the world’s first bionic fingers.

Like something out of Star Wars, Myoelectric sensors inside the elbow-high prosthesis pick up nerve signals from contracting arm muscles, setting the motorized digits in motion, just like natural fingers.

“I am doing so many things,” said Hrabanek, one of just four Canadians and 30 people worldwide to have the dexterity of their hands restored with ProDigits. “I can use a fork and knife for eating. It’s no problem,” he said with a grin.

Made of a silvery-grey semi-translucent material, the bare ProDigits are certainly robotic in appearance. But Dakpa’s lab is working on a cover that can be slipped over Hrabanek’s prosthesis that will match the shape and coloring of his other hand, right down to the nails. Touch Bionics announced the commercial launch of ProDigits last Tuesday.

Now that Hrabanek is becoming more agile with his bionic hand, he and his wife are looking forward to returning to their favorite hobby – fly fishing.  “That’s the miracle,” said Zlata, Hrabanek’s wife, of the technology that has helped the couple reclaim their lives. “It isn’t any more science fiction; it’s a reality.”

Source: The Canadian Press