It’s a relief to hear that youth are doing some good in the world, given the nature of news stories focusing on the various wrongdoings of young people. Santa Barbara holds its own well of young heroes who not only aspire to improve the world, but are actively doing so.
Meet 17-year-old Kelsey Short. Several years ago Kelsey’s worldview changed when she volunteered at an orphanage in Peru. “[The kids] were so bright and interested in everything,” she notes, “except that it was virtually given that once they were 18 and got out of the orphanage they: wouldn’t be able to break the cycle of poverty because they did not have the resources to go to college.” This trip showed her the importance of education and spurred her passion to provide education for those in poverty.
Last summer Kelsey traveled to Kenya with Global Routes, a teen community service group. “We helped build a classroom in a rural village,” Kelsey said. She also lived with villagers during the stay. “One of the experiences from Kenya that:further inspired me:was playing with the little girl in my homestay, Charlotte. She was only three or four and spoke two languages fluently and was eager to learn English from us:She was the cutest, most intelligent little three-year-old I have ever [met] and it was so sad to know that she would probably never:go to high school.”
Kelsey’s trip to Kenya inspired her to improve education in impoverished Africa and “make a difference in someone’s life.”
Now back at school at Santa Barbara High, Kelsey remembered her dream and is taking action. After being dissuaded from creating her own non-profit due to the legal work, she decided to organize a benefit walk/run. She chose the non-profit Global Partners for Development, a highly ranked organization according to the non-profit rating group Charity Navigator. The non-governmental, non-religious group works to end hunger and poverty by promoting economic self-sufficiency, education, healthcare, and basic survival skills.
“When I started this race I had no idea of the work it would take to complete it,” Kelsey begins. She describes the work that went into planning the run, from finding a location to “measuring:individual streets to try to find a route that was close to 5K.” She continues, “I needed to get a permit from the County of Santa Barbara, make the brochures, the website, the t-shirts, find volunteers and runners, [and] go:to businesses asking for raffle prizes.” She also had to contact businesses and friends to sponsor the race, and as “I’m very shy and not:a fan of the phone: It was a big learning experience.”
As for the future, Kelsey has a positive outlook in continuing her dream. “I would really like a profession that [has] to do with:helping those in poverty: I will definitely make time to put on fundraisers or volunteer for a non-profit or even keep volunteering at poverty-stricken areas.”
The Education Empowers 5K happens this Saturday at Montecito Union Elementary School at 385 San Ysidro Road. Raffles and snacks will accompany the run, as will an African Water Race at 8:45 a.m. on the field. “In many parts of Africa, people have to go fetch water from a stream or well and carry huge buckets of water on their heads. At my own homestay, I helped:do this with the women of my household one day. They gave my roommate and me a jug that was probably one-eighth the of the size of theirs and:it was [still] hard! I thought it would be a fun educational component to let others have the experience.”
Register is online or at the site of the race, beginning at 7:30 a.m. at school. The walk/run begins at 8:30 a.m., rain or shine, with prizes, raffles, and snacks at the finish.