Optimistic youth focused on something in distance

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring young people from across the U.S. and Canada who are making the world a better place. The young heroes we honor demonstrate that anyone can make a difference, no matter their age. We shine the spotlight on these dedicated young people to inspire countless others with their examples.

If you know a young person making a difference, be sure to encourage them to apply for our 2023 awards cycle. The online application is now open so young leaders can access it and begin compiling their materials. Applications are due April 15, with winners announced in late September.

Established in 2001 by author T. A. Barron, the Barron Prize annually honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people or the environment. Fifteen top winners each receive $10,000 to support their service work or higher education.

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Meet Recent Winners of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

Here are some of the fantastic things that recent winners are doing to help protect the planet, along with their encouraging and insightful words of wisdom.

Anna De Volld founded Promote Our Pollinators to raise awareness of pollinators’ importance and devastating decline and to provide ways to promote their population growth.

“Find something you’re passionate about, no matter how small, and see how you can use it to change the world,” says Anna.

Aseel Rawashdeh developed an inexpensive and environmentally friendly solution to mosquito-borne diseases, creating a larvicide that could be produced in industrial quantities.

“I’ve realized the power of dedicating myself to a cause,” says Aseel. “What kept me going was the prospect of contributing a solution to a global issue.”

Austin Picinich founded Save Our Salmon Through Art to create vibrant public art projects in the Greater Seattle area that engage, educate, and empower communities to restore salmon spawning streams.

“I’ve learned that the power of WE can start with one person — even if that person is just a high schooler who likes art,” says Austin.

Jack Dalton, known as the Kid Conservationist, works to protect critically endangered orangutans and their rainforest habitat, as well as to educate and inspire people to protect the environment.

“I’ve learned that I can take on challenging causes and persevere because it’s the right thing to do,” says Jack. “If you want something to change, you need to do something about it.”

Karina Samuel founded the Florida chapter of Bye Bye Plastic Bags, an international student-led nonprofit committed to reducing the amount of plastic on the planet.

“I believe those who have the power to fight for change have the responsibility to do so,” says Karina.

Laalitya Acharya invented Nereid, a low-cost, globally applicable device that uses artificial intelligence to detect water contamination within seconds.  Her hands-on educational programs, now offered online, have reached thousands of people in nearly a dozen countries.

“Our story has just begun and I’m so excited to see where it goes!” says Laalitya.

Lucy Westlake founded LucyClimbs to raise awareness of the need for clean water in developing countries by climbing the world’s highest mountains. She is the youngest American woman ever to summit Everest.

“I want to inspire a generation of young people to use their gifts and passions to make the world a better place,” says Lucy. “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”

Luna Abadía founded the Effective Climate Action Project to increase awareness of solutions to climate change – especially the possibilities of systemic thinking and collective action.

“Youth have the strongest voice in this fight. We’re the ones with passion and the ability to view the world with hope,” says Luna. “No one is ever too young to raise their voice and make a difference.”

Sri Nihal Tammana created Recycle My Battery, a nonprofit that installs free battery recycling bins and educates young people and adults about battery recycling.

“Earth gives us so much – oxygen, food, water – so it’s important that we give something back when we can,” says Nihal. 

William Charouhis founded We Are Forces of Nature and its A Million Mangroves initiative to combat climate change and protect coastlines from the effects of sea level rise.

“Youth have a can-do attitude, says Will. “We don’t understand bureaucracy, so we don’t let it stop us.”

Do You Know a Future Young Hero?

The Barron Prize celebrates the efforts of youth who have demonstrated initiative, tenacity, courage, intelligence, generosity, and high moral purpose. We invite public-spirited young people across North America to visit barronprize.org for more information about the application requirements.

Come April 15, we’ll begin reviewing applications, a process that spans months and calls on the heads and hearts of our judging committee. It’s truly inspiring to review hundreds of applications from courageous and compassionate young people. And honestly, it’s a daunting task to choose just 25 young heroes from them. Still, after a great deal of deliberation and debate, we always arrive at a group of winners and honorees who embody so much goodness. It’s an honor to shine the spotlight on them so that their work and heroic ideals can inspire us all.

About the Author

Barbara Ann Richman helped launch the Barron Prize in 2001 and has served as its executive director ever since. With degrees from the University of Virginia and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she has taught elementary school in the Boston area, directed educational programming at a regional nature center in Colorado, and taught at Fort Lewis College. She has also developed curricula for the U.S. Forest Service and numerous environmental organizations.

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