Recognizing leadership and excellence in girls around the world!
Founder of Books
What inspired you to start Books Against Bullying?
Maddie: I go to Da Beauty League in the summer (a hockey league that NHL hockey players with ties to Minnesota play in) and one of my favorite players, Paul Martin, had a sign for his charity, ShineALigh7. It supports anti-bullying, youth mental health awareness and suicide prevention, and I wanted to be able to help. But his charity event was for adults only, so I wanted to come up with something that I could do to raise money to donate. I talked to my mom about it, and I love reading and had a lot of books I was done with, so I came up with having a book sale in my driveway and called it Books Against Bullying.
Were you nervous to do it?
Maddie: No, I wasn’t ever nervous about it because I knew it was such a good cause and if people didn’t like it, then they just didn’t have to donate.
Amanda (Maddie's mom): Maddie never really worried that her idea wasn’t going to work. She just wanted to do something to help Paul’s foundation, whether it was $25.00 or the $600 she ended up raising at the first sale in the driveway.
How has serving others through Books Against Bullying helped you grow as a person?
Maddie: I’ve learned that there are a lot of good people in the world that want to help but sometimes don’t know how. I’ve met a lot of people who are very grateful for the things I am doing and it’s made me want to do even more to help, whenever I can. Doing things for Books Against Bullying has made me really want to do more charity work and be a volunteer.
Amanda: Maddie’s always been a quiet, shy kid. She still is, to a point, but all her work with Books Against Bullying has really brought her out of her shell. She’s gained a lot of confidence for sure.
Does leadership come naturally to you, or do you have to work at it?
Maddie: Usually when someone needs help or something, I step up to help them. If my friends are having trouble in a class, I ask what’s confusing them and if I can show them how to figure it out I do.
Amanda: Maddie is a quiet leader. She leads more by example than by stepping up and taking the reins. I can recall a time that I was chaperoning a field trip, and Maddie was walking ahead of me with a boy in her class who had some learning difficulties and was on the autism spectrum. He didn’t talk much, but Maddie was making conversation. The boy started to get agitated -- he looked anxious and was lashing out a bit -- and I watched Maddie take his hand in hers and lean in to him a little bit, and I watched all the tension drain out of his shoulders. A teacher was walking with me and told me that Maddie did things like that all the time.
How has leadership strengthened you?
Maddie: I’ve become more confident and do better talking in front of people. Last year at school I had to do a speech in front of the whole school about Books Against Bullying and I was really nervous, but I did it and felt proud after.
Amanda: Empathy has always been one of Maddie’s best qualities, and I think having her own charity has just made that characteristic stand out even more. She truly sees with her heart, and she believes everyone in the world should be treated equally. She’s definitely gained confidence, though she’s still extremely humble. The more recognition she gets for her work, the quieter she gets about it, and I think that’s a great quality.
Do you have any advice for young girls who want to make a difference but are holding back because of self-doubt or fear?
Maddie: Just don’t listen to anyone who’s trying to bully you in to not doing the things you love to do. Have faith in yourself and you can do anything.
Founder of Savannah Saves the World
What inspired you to start Savannah Saves the World?
Savannah: I started Savannah Saves the World because I didn’t like how I saw people being treated. It seemed like parts of the world were being neglected and mistreated. I wanted to help those people so they knew there were people who cared.
Did you have to overcome fear or self-doubt in the beginning? If so, how did you do it?
Savannah: When I started I didn’t know enough to doubt what I could do. After a while, I started to think I really couldn’t make a difference after all. As time went on, the more I thought about it and the more I did, I realized I could do it and I shouldn’t doubt myself. I remembered back to the looks of happiness and gratitude that people had when we helped them, and I knew the doubts I had were wrong. The little things I was doing was making a difference for people in many ways. We say "Small Acts, Big Impacts," and I realized that was the truth.
How has devoting time to helping others improved your life?
Savannah: It has really given me a different perspective on the world. It has helped me see the differences in how people treat each other and how much kindness people are really capable of. My work has given me an outlet to help give back to people who need it. I have had the opportunity to meet many new people and hear their stories. When we meet people that we help or give supplies to I am grateful that I get to make a difference. The best part is that this doesn’t just improve my life. All those who help us also experience the joy of giving to others and realizing the difference they've made in the lives of others. It has taught me to care more about others instead of just myself.
How has taking on a leadership role impacted your life?
Savannah: It has helped me to build the confidence to not only help others but to approach them too. I am grateful to be in a position to be able to do what I do; because I know many who aren’t. There are also a lot of other skills that have come with creating and leading this charity. I’m learning how to speak to groups of people, coordinate events, network, marketing, accounting, inventory and so much more. These help me not only keep everything together now, but will also help me as I enter the working world as an adult.
Do you have any advice for young girls who think they can't make a difference?
Savannah: Don’t give up on what you want to do! Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and you keep moving forward. Even the smallest acts can make some of the biggest impacts on not just your life but others lives as well.