Social Change Begins with Kiddos!

GGC co-founder and Board Chair Jan Helson

For most people, giving back is a small but important part of their lives. For me, it was the same way for many years. My husband and I gave to deserving charities, I sat on the board of some local organizations, and we taught our two children the value of philanthropy. But I was a busy working mom, trying to balance my life, just like so many women out there.

Last year, my life took a turn thanks to the sale of the niche food manufacturing business my husband and I owned and operated for many years. I was proud of the work we had done to build a successful global company, but I knew that I wanted something more out of the next chapter of my life. Retirement was never an option. It just isn’t part of my DNA.

So I proclaimed that my “Second Act” would be committed to helping kids realize that not only can they Ignite Good! to make a difference, but also that they also have a responsibility to Ignite Good! to make a difference in the world. I believe that we all have the power to make a difference, and the younger you teach kids what they can do, the better the world will be.

My daughter, Rachel, felt the same way. I am proud to say that she “found” social good much earlier in her life and she acted on it, making it not just something she does, but part of who she is from a young age. Rachel’s background is creative and mine is business. I like to think that we make a great professional team when we combine our talents. And she’s an inspiration to me. Among many things that she has done to Ignite Good!, as a teenager, she raised over $125,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Motivated by hearing about the impact of breast cancer on our family, she conceived of, produced, and starred in two local professional productions of The Rocky Horror Show. And then she took it to Broadway when she moved to New York City to attend college at NYU. She was amazing! She produced a hugely successful show with the help of very generous and talented people who supported her efforts, including Neil Patrick Harris and many Broadway gems!

Today, Rachel is in her early 20s. Working together, she and I have conceived a team of superheroes, known as The Global Game Changers. We wanted to create interactive, entertaining and charitable platforms that inspire kids to be catalyst for change in the world by doing good things for others without expecting anything in return. We liked the idea of using superheroes to draw children in. But our superheroes are unique: you don’t have to be bitten by a radioactive spider, born on the planet Krypton, or be a billionaire to be one of them. In order to become a Global Game Changer superhero, all you have to do is Ignite Good! It’s simple, but important. You can do it by starting your own charity or by holding the door for someone whose arms are full. We want every child to know the power to be a superhero lies within them – they just have to use it!

In the book, our fictional superhero team, Global Girl, Little Big-Heart and their trusty dog Pixel, set out to recruit real-life children around the globe to join their alliance and defeat the evil Krumi, a dark cloud who represents apathy. The three amazing real-life superheroes who are featured in the book are Phoebe from California who made the world better by helping a Feeding America Food Bank, Jaylen from Florida who overcomes being the victim of bullying and starts an organization to help fight bullying against others called Jaylen’s Challenge and Hannah from Ohio who does her part to fight poverty through an organization that she started called Hannah’s Socks that provides socks to people in need. At the end of The Global Game Changers book there is a call to action for the reader to be inspired to join the Alliance by visiting The Global Game Changers interactive web community.

To me, and to Rachel, it was as important to feature those real-life kids as it was to feature the fictional superheroes. One reason is that I think that we should initiate kids into philanthropy and giving the same way we initiate them into sports or other activities. We should ask them what charity is their favorite? How can they use their talents to help others? How does it make them feel when they do something nice for someone? Jaylen, Phoebe, and Hannah are great examples of why. We are excited and honored that school systems, starting this fall, are adopting The Global Game Changers into their elementary school curriculum. Educators and parents, like us, want to grow young generations of kids who embrace Ignite Good! and who as a result, we believe, will have a greater chance of growing up to be healthier, happier, more empowered, more productive, and more responsible individuals throughout their lives.

We hope that The Global Game Changers inspires and empowers many generations of kids to become GGC superheroes — good people who use their passions to make a difference in the world. In a world where bad behavior seems to be more recognized than good behavior, we want to recognize and Ignite Good! Rachel and I are very excited about sharing The Global Game Changers with the kids at apple seeds. We hope they will want to Ignite Good! We can recognize superhero material when we see it!

– Jan Helson (Mama Ben)

This is a blog post created for Apple Seeds, an indoor playground in New York City, where authors Jan Helson & Rachel Annette Helson participated in an event.