When you listen to 11-year-old Orion Jean speak about his Race to Kindness initiative, most would be surprised, however, his parents McDonald and Kherri Jean say this is something they have seen in their son since he was a baby.
“He was always a selfless person and never thought about himself and was always thinking about others,” McDonald said. “He always had a servant’s heart so this isn’t anything we forced on him, it just comes natural.
Orion’s initiative started after he won the National Kindness speech contest which focused on treating one another with kindness and remaining true to wanting to impact the lives of others, Orion donated the $500 prize money to a local children’s hospital.
From there, he continued to serve others through “missions” to have a meaningful impact on his community.
His determination to serve continued as he donated 500 toys to a local children’s hospital and partnered with local food drives to provide 100,000 meals for Texas families in need.
Saturday’s mission was a book fair aimed at sharing his love and passion for reading to fellow youth.
Why is giving back so important to Orion?
“The hope and inspiration is just seeing some of the things that are happening in my community and I just wanted to help.”
Orion’s book fair speaks to lack of access to resources for underprivileged youth centered on the stigma that says black and brown children do not read. This misnomer is something he is aware of and says lack of resources is the issue at hand.
“Hopefully by doing things like this, children like me can see themselves in the stories they want to read as opposed to the history books and assigned readings in school,” he said. “Events like these we hope will erase that mindset because it’s simply not true and if it is, it’s because they haven’t been given the resources to like reading and hopefully it will erase all of that.”
If you want to help in your own community, Orion encourages you to find your own unique way to become involved, but the most important quality he wants people to exude is kindness.
“I encourage those who want to help to donate books to non-profit literacy organizations in their area, which can help heighten the education level in children and adults in your own community,” Orion said, “and in your everyday life, just continue to be kind… that’s what it’s all about.”
Orion’s story will be featured during the “Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade, Saturday, December 25 (10a.m. to 12 p.m. EST/PST) on ABC.