Global ChampionsWe work to change the lives of those who need it most.
Letter from Founder, Heshie Segal
For as long as I can remember, I have had this dream about children being
born into home and school environments in which character education, life skills, diversity and authenticity became the foundation for the global living experience. Perhaps I had this dream because it was not how I was raised. Perhaps it was because I saw the inequities in how people where treated, both in and out of school. Perhaps it was because I was female, because of my religion, because I didn't have a lot of money . . . because . . . and I could keep on going.
The thing is . . . I didn't let it stop me. By the time I was five, I learned how cruel people could be. I had chickenpox or measles; I can't remember which. What I did remember was other kids making fun of me because of the red marks on my skin. The only tool to fight back was to cry and of course, that is not a good tool. The bullies kept on going.
When I was in third grade, I was told I couldn't stay out of school to celebrate my holidays. My teacher managed to give a test on every holiday and I got a failing grade because I wasn't there. My religion was a strike against me. What tool did I use? I cried. Again, not a good tool. I cried consistently for almost 2 years until my parents couldn't stand it any longer and we moved to a new area.
There were lots of good things that happened there. Yet, one thing stood out my mind. It was an all-white school and that had been my only real experience. One day a black brother and sister entered our school. No one talk to them at first and I didn't understand that so I became friends with them. I didn't want them to be treated as I was treated.
This may have been just one of the routes to my activism. I wasn't going to not have a friend because of the color of their skin. The same held true for religion. It just didn't matter to me. Even when I was little, character was what mattered to me.
Most of my challenges came from being female and Jewish. There was also abuse; that's for another day. By the time I was in high school, I had experienced far too much to sit back and let things slide when they needed attention. I quickly decided I was going to stand up for my beliefs, for the rights of others and do whatever I could to make it a better world.
How do I actually do that? I knew I wanted to live in a world where people could live in peace, celebrate diversity, and be treated in similar manner, no matter their station in life.
I started locally, volunteering where I could, studying how people operated, what was important to them and what they were willing to do to achieve their objectives. I learned quickly about people who wanted power so they could simply get what they personally wanted. I also learned about the people who were fine with just taking orders from the leaders to get things done. Then of course there were the people pleasers who would do anything to make people happy (and in the process, often lose their own power to do what they were good at).
In the process of leading teams as well as participating in teams, I learned a lot about adult interaction and realized that many of them were so ingrained in childhood upbringing and habits that perhaps their children could actually be the ones to heal the world. Parents were threatened at the mere possibility that their children could be raised it is different manner.
I had to have a starting point so I started working with teenage kids. They were awesome. Their minds were open. I loved it. They loved it. Then I went to secondary and elementary schools. The ones who got the most out of what I was teaching were low income and inner city schools. There are so many impactful stories it would take more than a book to include them.
During the months and years that followed, I began traveling and first hand saw some devastatingly poor areas where children had next to nothing, little food, little clothing, some without a roof for covering and in most cases no clean water.
I had to do something for these children. I had wanted to teach character education and when I met these children need, I realized they had to have a means to fill their bellies before they could absorb character education and helping others.
And so my vision had to be altered to fulfill basic needs because with clean water, food, clothing and a place to call home, children could then walk in the possibility of how their lives can be enhanced.
My first out of country trip to help the children was to Tanzania, Africa. You can find more about that under the section called Mission Africa.