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I am a kid at heart; this list will confirm that.

The Internet is bursting with positive projects, but I had it in my heart this month to create a list that would speak to all the parents AND the young at heart—I know our community is full of them! It’s nothing new to say that our days can be tough and unpredictable. However, do we find the space to laugh, read a little light-hearted news, and be reminded of the joy in life often enough? If you’ve forgotten about blessings and laughter lately, then this is your list!

February’s list is packed with people who push us to be better. Take a few minutes to step away from the chaos of your day and be inspired and rejuvenated by these change makers.

THE LIST for February features five projects and people that are sure to spark some joy and hope inside of you.

1. A Pep Talk from Kid President

Ok, this one has been everywhere on the Internet lately, but I could not resist sharing it. This Kid President has a lot on his mind, and our country is clearly listening.

Take a break from your long day and really check this out. You’ll smile, you’ll forget about problems for a moment, and you will feel connected to a lot of others souls across the world.

One of my favorite lines? “We got work to do. We can cry about it. Or we can dance about it.”

I think this is the kind of pep talk the world really needs right now, so it is no wonder it went viral so quickly. Imagine how much better our day-to-day lives could be if we chose to take Kid President’s advice to heart always. Here’s to putting more of these values into our daily lives!

2. Crayon Collection

This next project is a reminder of how a simple concept can make an astounding difference. The Crayon Collection seeks to bring these magical little art tools into the hands of kids who would not have access to them otherwise. I am friends with the founder of this organization, and I have been blessed to watch the whole project take off in some remarkable directions.

Their mission reads: We have been collecting crayons from restaurants and schools, and we have donated these crayons to low income communities, orphanages, hospitals, and Title One Schools.

I find it easy to get behind a project that takes so little to make such a big impact in the world, and I hope you will too.

It’s really easy to start a crayon collection where you are. Learn more here.

3. The 2012 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKids of the Year

Meet Conner and Cayden. Their story is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Seven-year-old Cayden Long has cerebral palsy, but his nine-year-old brother has found a way for them to compete in triathlons. It grabbed the attention of Sports Illustrated Kids magazine, which recently named them SportsKids of the Year for 2012.

Everything is a matter of perspective. These boys are proof that something that can seem impossible at one glance is totally possible if you choose to tilt your head a bit and think outside the box. This story makes me think this is how I would want my daughters to grow and be together—persevering through adversity and constantly sticking on one another’s team. It’s truly a gift that these brothers can share this partnership with the world in such a massive way.

Take a glimpse of Conner’s good heart from the video: “If people would race with people who can’t walk or talk, or who have any kind of autism, it might open the eyes of [those] who don’t really care about it.”

4. Student Suspended for Bringing Joy to School Is Totally Redeemed by Local Reporter

Last year, Bryan Thompson, a fourteen year old in high school, was suspended for wearing a banana costume during a football game and running around school grounds. Yes, that’s right, a banana costume. The odd thing? He was not really doing anything wrong. No threats. No violence. Just plain rousing laughter from the crowd.

Many students protested the ten-day suspension, but it was not until NBC Station WRC reporter, Pat Collins, showed up in his grape costume did the suspension lift.

The video may poke some fun at the matter, but I think it serves to shed truth: Bryan Thompson was only guilty of trying to pass some joy onto fellow classmates. Can he really be faulted for that? And it even seems to ask a bigger question: How do we encourage our children to step outside the lines and be bold without filling them with fear of consequences?

5. Joanne O’Riordan

Joanne O’Riordan, a sixteen year old from Ireland, is one of seven people born with the condition Tetra-amelia syndrome, meaning she has no limbs. Having no limbs has not stopped Joanne from living a full and daring life. Reading more about her, you’ll realize just what a spontaneous and compassionate individual she is. She is one of those people you can just look at and know that this person has such a clear purpose in this world. It’s awe-inspiring.

Named Young Person of the Year for 2012 in Ireland, Joanne will release a documentary in 2013 titled No Limbs No Limits. I see Joanne as a reminder to all of us that big achievements are totally possible, even with so “little.” It is a story of triumph over adversity and courage over fear.

Learn more here.

 


THE LIST is a monthly post featuring the top five inspiring finds that hit me at my core. Morsels so good that I cannot possibly think of keeping them to myself. Good works, good people, good books, and good movies—all rolled into one post. Missed the last list? Check it out here!

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. And remember, This List grows more valuable with your contributions. Share your own favorite finds this month in the comments. I’m always searching for more stories, and your suggestions might be featured in an upcoming post!


Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER.