41_Craig Kielburger

Let the Children Lead

“My biggest challenge was maintaining a sense of hope in the face of so much suffering. Then I thought about the 300 schools and the medical clinics we built.”


Craig Kielburger
Founder, Free the Children
Thornhill, Ontario


What needed an overhaul?
Born: 17/12/82 Craig Kielburger believes that childrens rights needed a major overhaul and so he created an organization dedicated to improving childrens rights: Craig Kielburger is the founder and chair of Kids Can Free The Children, an international network of children helping children through leadership, representation, and action. The organization was founded by Craig in 1995 at the age of 12. It has over 100,000 youth active in school and community chapters around the world. Members are socially active on a local, national, and international level and are involved at all levels of decision making in the organization.

What was the single biggest obstacle?
The biggest obstacle I faced was maintaining a sense of hope in the face of all the suffering I witnessed. At times it feels like I am fighting a losing battle. Child poverty and child labor are on the rise! But then I think about the 300 schools that my organisation has built, the medical clinics, water projects, alternative income cooperatives for families and nutrition programs. I remember our advocacy campaigns and the laws which we helped to create. I think about our leadership camps and the army of KCFTC members working for change and this keeps me motivated.

How did you overcome it?
I overcame this challenge by realising that I have helped to break down barriers. I have proven that anyone can change the world for the better–even a child! Moreover, my work has enabled other young people to realise they have the power to take small, simple actions to improve the world.

How have you seen results?
Kids Can Free The Children has raised funds for the construction of more than 300 primary schools in the rural areas of developing nations, providing education to over 15,000 children. They have, moreover, distributed approximately 50,000 school kits and in excess of 2.5 million dollars worth of medical supplies to needy families. KCFTC currently supports portable water projects, health clinics, alternative income cooperatives and primary schools in 21 developing nations. Furthermore, KCFTC’s advocacy campaigns have led Canada, Mexico and Italy to pass legislation in order to better protect sexually abused children. It has lobbied, in addition, corporations to adopt labels for child-labor free products. Kids Can Free The Children was selected in 2001 by the United Nations and The Office of the Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict to be the lead NGO coordinating youth outreach for the decade of peace and non-violence towards children.