My name is Leah Okimoto, I started an organization based in Andover, MA called Aaron’s Presents in memory of my infant son. It is a unique grants program that invites young children in 8th grade and below to apply for a grant of up to $500 in materials and services in order to carry out a positive, thoughtful project of their own design.
The goal is to encourage children from an early age to start to view their lives in terms of what they can give, rather than what they can expect to receive, at every age and stage of their lives. Through the process, they start to regard themselves as members of a community, with the ability and responsibility to contribute, help and problem-solve, to think of others’ needs alongside their own, and to create meaningful connections between themselves and other human beings. I believe that this outlook will infuse their lives, actions and achievements with purpose, meaning, true happiness and a way to cope and heal through difficult times. In the process, they will also learn valuable leadership and project management skills.
In the spring of 2014, I piloted the program at the Lowell Community Charter Public School in Lowell, MA and the Youth Development Organization after-school program in Lawrence, MA. I worked with 26 children on 12 wonderful projects that directly impacted over 1,000 people. This fall, I will be working to spread the word in all types of communities, cities and towns within a 30-mile radius of Andover and is excited to see what these creative and kind kids come up with!
Please check us out, we appreciate any support you are able to give.
~ Kindly, Leah Okimoto – firstname.lastname@example.org