Kelowna youngsters set out to help the world

Siblings Adonie,11, and Lydia, 8, plan to travel to 12 countries over the next year volunteering their time and help raise $1 million.

Kelowna siblings Adonie

A pair of Kelowna siblings want to show that kids can truly make a difference in the world.

Adonie, 11, and Lydia, 6, will be joined by their mom JB Owen on a worldwide charitable mission that will see them spend time in 12 countries between now and the end of August next year.

Their objectives: To raise $1 million for a group of charities in each of those countries, many of them with Canadian service affiliations, and volunteer their time to help on charity projects in the countries they visit.

Owen said the ambitious idea for her kids, who attend Aberdeen Preparatory School, started last spring over a family conversation about what the kids would do if they won a $50 million lottery prize.

“They were pretty adamant about how they would help others if they won that money rather than what they would buy for themselves. They talked about helping giant sea turtles, make every sidewalk in Kelowna the colour of the rainbow, help amputees, just help charities in general,” Owen said.

While they didn’t win the lottery prize, Owen said the concept of giving back continued to percolate with the youngsters, buoyed by their mom telling them you don’t have to be rich to give or help those less fortunate than yourselves.

The kids began asking their mom why there are starving kids in Africa while there is a problem of kids being overweight in the U.S.; and why do some people have a house and a job while others are homeless.

It was from discussing such issues that the idea evolved of Adonie and Lydia home schooling online for the next school term, while attempting to raise $1 million for a select group of charities and traveling to those countries where the charities are located to volunteer their time to work on their projects.

“Our goal is to get 7,000 people to donate $12.12 a month for 12 months to help others on our planet,” Owen said.

Inspiring local residents to make that donation will come from both the kick-off to the family’s charity world tour, and also online updates in a variety of social media formats to show what the kids are doing to volunteer their time and highlighting the need to help.

“Adonie and Lydia want to give hope to other kids that they can make a difference in this world,” said Owen, a single parent who moved to Kelowna with her kids three years ago.

Mayor Colin Basran met with Adonie and Lydia on Tuesday afternoon to offer his support. The family begins their journey heading to Newfoundland at the beginning of October and traveling west to various points before heading abroad.

Their Canadian stops will include Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal, Charlottetown, St Johns, Halifax and Vancouver.

Other countries on the JUSTGIVE.today world tour will include Dominican Republic, Mexico, Costa Rica, Australia, Tasmania, Thailand, Peru, Galapagos, Greece and the U.S.

The family received a donation from their grandmother to help off-set their travel and accommodation costs, as the goal is for the money donated to go directly to the charities involved.

Owen will also continue to work in product development for her global clients, saying she can set up a temporary office wherever she can plug in her computer and access the Internet.

Adonie said he will miss school and hockey while traveling abroad for the next year, but he wants to seize the opportunity to be an inspiration for other kids.

“There are a lot of kids out there who don’t get many hugs, friendship, handshakes, and time or support from others,” he said.

Owen describes her children as part of the “fridge door generation,” meaning they open the fridge door and food is there, but they likely spend little time thinking about how that food arrived in their kitchen.

“I just want my kids to be socially aware of the hardships other people face in our community and our world, and there are so many ways they can help, just by being charitable to others,” she said.

For more information about the global charitable campaign, see the website JUSTGIVE.today or email justgiveworldtour@gmail.com.