Kyle Taylor’s Road Trip America
17 Jun 2008
Ashoka’s Youth Venture, an organisation providing support and finance for young people to set up their own social projects, recently helped fund Kyle Taylor’s ambitious road trip across America.
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Ashoka’s Youth Venture, a global organisation that provides support and finance for active young people to set up their own social projects, recently helped fund Kyle Taylor’s ambitious road trip across America. His mission was to seek out and tell the stories of fellow Venturers ñ young people who are doing more than just talking about change; they are actually creating it.
Kyle Taylor’s 40-day 7,373 mile journey ñ Road Trip America ñ began this February. It took him from Los Angeles on one side of the continent to Washington DC on the other, zig-zagging his way through 32 states and into three Canadian Provinces.
While en route, he reported the work of active young people whose projects are benefitting their schools, neighbourhoods and communities. Young people like Rebecca Robison who, at 12 years old, started Astrotots, space and science camps that encourage girls, aged 4–10, to explore the world of science and maths; and Ethan, who at just six years old, set up in business organising teddybear-building parties and uses the profits to send bears to children in need; and 12-year-old Jessica, whose project, Richard’s Rwanda, raises money to pay for tuition, books and clothes for girls in Rwanda who suffered from the 1994 genocide.
A man named Richard stayed with Jessica’s family while doing fundraisers in the Seattle area and she was moved by the stories of young girls in the country who did not have access to education. ‘I just felt like I had been so lucky my whole life. I wanted to do something to give young women in Rwanda a chance at being powerful leaders inside their own country,’ Jessica explained to Kyle, during his time in Seattle. So far she has raised 7,000 dollars through fund raisers and bake sales.‘When I first began travelling and meeting young people,’ says Kyle, ‘I was shocked by the power and spirit of our youngest Venturers ñ 12 and 13 year-olds, who were articulate, passionate and driven. Now, ten months later, it seems more like the norm.’
Ashoka’s Youth Venture inspires and supports young people to launch their community-benefitting ventures, with 1,000 dollars seed funding along with the tools and resources to make their Ventures a success. ‘One of the most effective ways to improve the lives of young people, is to empower them to realise their own ability to make positive social change,’ says the organisation. ‘And change is about more than just political chit-chat,’ reminds Kyle in a New York Times feature. ‘There’s a silent revolution sweeping the planet. Young people the world over have launched the largest global movement in history, taking action to truly change the world… We’re speaking up, not just with signs and protests but with action… proving that change is about more than talking. It’s about doing… This is our civil rights movement and it’s what will define our generation.’
In total, Road Trip America highlighted more than a hundred of the 1,200 Venture teams and involved thousands of youngsters nationwide in site visits, meet-up events and service projects. ‘This generation views change as something more than just casting a vote,’ Kyle adds. ‘We’re innovative, passionate and committed; the world’s first truly global generation. We’ll no longer wait for someone else to fix the problems in our communities ñ we are taking our own action.’
This is not Kyle’s first trip to focus on these issues. After launching his own Venture in 2003, he partnered with Ashoka in 2007 for an 88-day, 11-country, five-continent World Tour, seeking out the tales of 120 fellow Venturers and engaging thousands of young people right across the globe.
The whole of Road Trip America was documented online through videos, 6,000 photographs and a regularly updated blog. The tour included project site visits, training sessions for young people, special events at high schools and univer-sities and he was even invited to speak at the Social Business and Micro-Economic Opportunities For Youth Conference in Colorado, alongside the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and FINCA Founder John Hatch ñ two people who came up with the idea of Micro-Finance. Between them, they have lifted up to 133 million families out of poverty.
‘I’m on a mission,’ says Kyle about the purpose of Road Trip America. ‘To make something out of this. Raise awareness. Increase understanding. Do whatever it takes to make people realise that this generation ñ the first truly global generation ñ is set to be the greatest in history.’
Kyle Taylor, Lego Land, Mall of America
Photo: © Kyle Taylor
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