When Mandi Simon was 7 years old, she designed and presented a business plan to raise money for kids in-need. Now Mandi is 12 years old and the founder of “Simon Says Give” named after the children’s game Simon Says. Her first business plan was to raise money and support disadvantaged kids with basic necessities, but once Mandi got started, new opportunities began to open up.
The project “High Five for Supplies” which is a program organized to give disadvantaged children a backpack full of school supplies. This project has now helped over 16,000 children with backpacks full of school supplies. Through these projects, over 5,000 hours of youth volunteer efforts have been accrued giving many young volunteers an idea and the opportunity to make a difference in their communities.
Mandi’s goal is to positively impact 2 million kids by the year 2022 - her 10 year anniversary of giving.
Nolan Fleming is the President for the Sioux Falls, South Dakota chapter of “Simon Says Give”. At the age of 9, Nolan decided he wanted to partner with Mandi Simon and her charitable foundation and bring the programs to Sioux Falls. He had a vision to help others in his school and community and make an impact on the lives of children in need.
“Simon Says Give” is a nonprofit group based in Minnesota. They support Kids Celebrating Kids in three ways: birthday celebrations for kids in-need, Kids In Action leadership training and their annual High Five for Supplies. They are a kid-founded and kid-operated organization preparing leaders for tomorrow by “developing the next generation of leaders to be unstoppable”.
Nolan is now organizing “High Five for Supplies” in his local community. This is a backpack and school supply drive for children in need. The first year the program supported 50 children with the help of local businesses and grassroots efforts; and by its’ 4th year, has helped over 16,000 children. Nolan is diligent at getting volunteers and businesses to donate time and merchandise for the backpacks. His leadership ability and goals are to be commended.
Serving the children of the Navajo Nation, Leah Strelsin, Claire Opel, and the staff of Thoreau, New Mexico’s “Summer Youth Corporation” organize and implement programs that explore and develop areas of interest and activities for children. The premise of the camp is that “all children have the brilliance and potential to be leaders” and their goal is that these campers leave every day feeling happy and accomplished as they learn essential life skills such as teamwork, leadership, and perseverance. Through activities in sports, art, music, culture and interactions with nature, kids develop a sense that there are many ways to be successful and grow their self-esteem.
Thoreau, New Mexico is in a rural area 30 miles from the nearest grocery store yet in a magnificent part of our country. The majestic Red Mesas stand over the community, and horses roam freely across the land. The camp serves the Navajo Nation area’s children where poverty is widespread. The “Summer Youth Corporation” sees education as a great equalizer, but with local schools underfunded many of the programs focusing on culture, sports, art and music have been dropped. Students are hungry for creative activities, and this summer program gives them the opportunity to learn and develop those skills.
The “Summer Youth Corporation” is founded on the principle that there are infinite ways to learn and infinite subjects to explore. The children are taught about their Dine language and arts, and their distinctive Navajo culture. They are encouraged to embrace this unique culture and pass it on to the next generation.