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The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes features some pretty remarkable kids. Teens are cleaning up our oceans, feeding their underserved peers, creating tutoring networks and collecting donations for the homeless. Many have used their screen time to mobilize volunteer efforts in ways that the previous generation just couldn’t do.
One prizewinner stands out not only for her innovative thinking but also for her inspiration. Jordan Reeves was born without the lower part of her left arm. When she was 11 years old, she invented a prosthetic arm that shoots biodegradable glitter. Her invention got the attention of Marvel Comics, which created a superhero based on Jordan. She also helped Mattel design a Barbie that uses a prosthetic leg. She spoke at TEDxYouth and wrote a children’s book that helps kids understand how to talk about disabilities.
Most of us would have been happy that the message of inclusion is getting out there. And it’s pretty cool to be a media celebrity. But that’s just the beginning for Jordan. Her dream is to help kids with disabilities design their way into a world where they don’t always fit. The mission of her nonprofit, Design With Us, is to “build solutions to help bring extra joy to disabled young people. We believe sharing design and STEM knowledge empowers youth to create their own solutions.”
Jordan has teamed up with industrial designers and created virtual and in-person workshops for disabled youth, mentoring them in the process of bringing their inventions to life. Now, hundreds of supporters around the country are bringing disabled kids into the conversation of inclusion.
Sometimes, it’s all too easy to focus on the challenges facing our kids. But as we do, let’s not forget the kids like Jordan who are turning those challenges into opportunities.
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