Grace Callwood, 14, of Bel Air, has been named a winner of the 2019 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates 25 inspiring, public-spirited young people from across the U.S. and Canada who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment. Fifteen top winners each receive $10,000 to support their service work or higher education.
Grace founded the We Cancerve Movement, www.wecancerve.org, a nonprofit that creates ways for youth to help other children who are homeless, sick and in foster care. Her group has donated more than $15,000 in cash grants and another $50,000 in products to youth-serving organizations across Maryland, Delaware and Ohio.
Grace began her work at age 7 following her diagnosis with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Unable to attend school because of chemotherapy, she donated her new back-to-school clothes to young girls whose family had lost everything in a fire. When she heard of their delight in receiving the gift, she decided to do more to help children in difficult situations.
Six months later, Grace founded We Cancerve. She created Books & Buddies to donate a new book and stuffed animal to children in pediatric hospitals. Her La Magnifique Boutique provides free clothing for teen girls at a foster care group home.
Much of her work supports children living at Anna’s House, a homeless shelter for families, where she has arranged mentors, holiday gifts and field trips to professional football games. Since 2015, she has run Camp Happy at the shelter, a free, four-week summer camp that engages more than 100 children in art, nature and STEM activities. Each camper is paired with one of 50 junior camp counselors who provide individual support and attention.
“I’ve realized I can dream big and accomplish a lot at a young age,” says Grace. “I’ve learned that I just have to go for it and believe in my vision and team. There’s no age limit on service.”
The Barron Prize was founded in 2001 by author T. A. Barron and was named for his mother, Gloria Barron. Since then, the prize has awarded more than half a million dollars to hundreds of young people who reflect the great diversity of America. They are female and male, urban and rural, and from various backgrounds — all working in creative ways to help their communities or protect the planet.
“Nothing is more inspiring than stories about heroic people who have truly made a difference to the world,” says Barron. “And we need our heroes today more than ever. Not celebrities, but heroes — people whose character can inspire us all. That is the purpose of the Gloria Barron Prize: to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others.”
For more information on the Gloria Barron Prize, visit www.barronprize.org.