I will ashamedly admit that I have a penchant for bad television, and not long ago I was watching re-runs of “My Super Sweet 16,” a reality program on MTV that documents the birthdays of affluent teenagers (generally a sixteenth birthday, but sometimes a quinceañera or other coming-of-age celebration). These parties often run upwards of $100,000 and are thrown in the honor of (clearly spoiled) adolescents who will demand anything from performances by Kanye West to helicopter rides to faux volcanoes to cars with six-figure price tags. The show is dripping with drama (one girl had a complete meltdown when her mother selected the wrong moment to give her a Lexus) and clearly aims to find the most excessive examples of, well, excess.
The absurdity of shows like “My Super Sweet 16” is self-evident, and most people likely have a sense of how shameless these parties are. However, the tragedy of extreme self-fulfillment is more easily missed, but can be brought in to focus when one considers how “the other half” lives. And I literally mean half; 50% of the world’s population lives below the internationally defined poverty line, meaning they live on less than $2.50 per day. Even worse, UNICEF states that 24,000 children die DAILY because of poverty. In light of those statistics, let’s revisit a $100,000 super sweet sixteen: the money spent on a single party for a single spoiled teenager could easily feed, house, clothe and educate more than 100 children for an ENTIRE YEAR.
Most of us will never spend $100,000 on a birthday party, but the truth is that the socioeconomic status of the average American is still much higher than that of the average person. I look at things I received on my own birthday last year (a coffee grinder, an ice cream cake, a check from my grandma) and if I were to add it up, it may not qualify as a super-sweet anything, but it would certainly be enough to make a real, lasting difference to a single child.
That is why World of Children created the Give Up Your Birthday website – to allow those of us who have had many luxuries in our lives to donate our birthdays to children who have had few luxuries and even insufficient necessities. If you would like to give your birthday to the world’s children who are in the most need, please visit http://www.giveupyourbirthday.org and sign up for a page. 100% of donations that come in through this website will go directly to trustworthy programs that dramatically improve the quality of life for children. To learn more about Give Up Your Birthday and what we are doing, please visit this website.