See how our funds helped one 10-year-old give up substance abuse and grow into the 17-year-old community leader she is today.
When she was 10, Hannah Bolton was not attending school. It wasn’t because she was a bad kid, hated homework or didn’t care about her education. It was because she was under extreme pressure; pressure that most elementary school students never have to face.
With her mother in the hospital and her father suffering from depression, Hannah was single-handedly raising her two younger brothers and sister. This left her with little time to worry about her education. Eventually, the stress of running the household and even paying the bills became too much for her to handle, leading to substance abuse problems.
“One day when my mom caught me, she forced me to go to the doctor’s,” said Hannah in a video on the Young Pioneers website, “and they told me that if I carried on the way I was going, then I wasn’t going to live past the next few years.”
By the time she was 14, Hannah was hanging out with the wrong crowd, skipping school and failing her classes. Her teachers referred her to the Aspirations Enterprise Program at Young Pioneers, a nonprofit started by 2011 World of Children Youth Award Honoree Luke Lancaster that helps young people get back on their feet. Aside from teaching Hannah basic business skills, Young Pioneers helped her open a bank account, get a passport and go abroad for the first time.
“What most people don’t see are the small things that Young Pioneers do that make a big difference in the lives of young people like me,” Hannah said.
After finishing the Aspirations Enterprise course, Luke asked Hannah to become a volunteer for Young Pioneers. Excited for the challenge, Hannah began organizing community festivals and running after-school clubs for Young Pioneers’ Be Healthy project.
Her hard work led Young Pioneers to offer her a Tomorrow’s Leaders apprenticeship, a scholarship program funded by the World of Children.
“I’ve now built my confidence and improved the way that I speak, the way that I dress and the way that I act,” Hannah said, “and I’m feeling good.”
Hannah, now 17, has been shortlisted for the 2012 National Children’s Achievement Award, achieved high scores in her Business Administration course and helped to set up a Rape Crisis intervention unit in partnership with Young Pioneers.
“Getting involved with Young Pioneers was when I first realized I could actually do something,” said Hannah in a recent article on iVillage.co.uk. “Young Pioneers made me feel like I could achieve something and make a difference.”
The World of Children is proud to fund programs that save lives, believing that saving a life isn’t always tied to medical care. To the World of Children, saving a life can mean starting small, taking one step at a time, and giving young people — who may be on the verge of giving up — the tools to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Hear Hannah’s story from Hannah herself in this video she made for World of Children: