Aidan Anderson inspires students to give back
These are just a few positive messages and attributes adopted by one DeKalb County School District (DCSD) elementary school, as advised by an award-winning giver, speaker, singer and songwriter.
Fernbank Elementary School welcomed Aidan Anderson on December 14, 2018 for an afternoon filled with song and wisdom. Anderson, who celebrated his 18th birthday on December 14, is the winner of the 2015 Coretta Scott King Award and the June 2016 Daily Point of Light Award. He is known for inspiring a genuine enthusiasm for charity and change at the grassroots level, including school-aged children.
When he was just seven years old, Aidan Anderson raised $80 by playing his harmonica while bored at a client dinner he attended with his mother. Rather than keep the money, Aidan purchased as many anti-parasite pills for children in need as he could. Little did he know he would be changing his life forever.
“That one choice to give put me on a path,” Anderson said. “I told her I wanted to start an awareness initiative because giving is important. Giving changed my life.”
Today, 10 years later, Anderson runs Aidan Cares, a 501(c)3 dedicated to spreading the joys of service. By championing compassion and the act of giving, Anderson has helped raise millions for such causes as cancer, homelessness, public education, low-income families, Adopt a Block, Boys & Girls Club, veterans, domestic violence, the Humane Society, and more.
Anderson’s passion has allowed him to speak alongside Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, football coach Nick Saban, and other notable luminaries at events that include TEDx OnBoard, TEDx Cincinnati, Stanford University, the Georgia Summit for the University of Georgia System, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and more.
On December 14, Anderson spread this passion to Fernbank students with an afternoon filled with positive entertainment. Anderson regaled students with acoustic covers from Ed Sheeran and John Mayer, as well as his own original material. He also shared positive messages between songs.
“It’s a privilege to be here,” Anderson said. “I want to give a shout out to the teachers, because it’s miraculous that you give everything you can, day in and day out. You’re a part of shaping the future. It’s absolutely awesome. Thank you for having me here today.”
Anderson told students that it’s never too early to begin changing the world, and encouraged them to help whoever they can. His tips included: be real and be you; run to need and not from it; no matter how small the gift, it makes a difference; hang out with givers; don’t make excuses; and always remember that you matter.
Anderson also encouraged students to look up from their phones, interact with one another, and take the time to acknowledge everyone they can. He advised students to use their passions to find creative ways to help people.
“We can help people in really little ways and make a big difference,” Anderson said. “We can be kind. It’s a hard thing for a lot of people, but it’s not okay. People who are bullies don’t grow up to be happy. The simple things are the things that matter most—and that’s kindness. Being popular doesn’t matter at all if you’re not kind.”
According to Fernbank Principal Joan Ray, the purpose of Anderson’s visit was to promote kindness and generosity among students. Teacher Margaret Miskis, who was the teacher primarily responsible for Anderson’s visit, said Anderson’s visit coincides with students at Fernbank learning International Baccalaureate (IB) themed words, which promote inquiry and curiosity.
Miskis also hopes the IB words promoted a sense of generosity during the holiday season. Before Anderson’s arrival, students decorated hallways and classrooms with decorative, positive depictions of the words, complete with illustrations.
“Aidan came here to sing to us and to share some of his stories with us,” Miskis said. “We’re teaching students how to incorporate IB words into their daily lives. It could not be a more perfect time of year for this.”
For more information on Aidan Cares, visit www.aidancares.org.