By Brianna Rhodes, Special to the AFRO
Grace Callwood was recognized with the highly acclaimed 2019 World of Children Youth Award for her humanitarian efforts through her Maryland-based nonprofit, “The We Cancerve Movement,” on Nov. 7 at the World of Children’s annual awards ceremony and benefit in New York City.
The Harford County resident, Callwood, 15, was honored by the nonprofit charity for founding an organization that has made a positive and significant impact in vulnerable children’s lives. She was recognized alongside four other honorees and it was the first time in World of Children’s 22-year history that all five recipients were women.
The Youth Award celebrates people who are 21 years old or younger, who advocate for causes that affect children’s rights such as health, poverty, education, safety and more, according to World of Children’s website.
Callwood founded the We Cancerve Movement at the young age of seven when she was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She created the organization after she decided to give clothes to two kids who lost their home in a fire. Since then, Callwood has been committed to providing opportunities to bring hope and happiness to foster, sick and homeless kids in Maryland and other parts of the world.
The young humanitarian was selected out of almost 1,500 applicants for her work as the founder and chairwoman of the We Cancerve Movement and will receive a $50,000 cash grant to expand the nonprofit’s programs and efforts.
The young visionary said she’s still amazed to be celebrated by World of Children for her work over the years.
“It’s still a little bit shocking to just think I’m among a line of all women who have won this amazing award that is given to some of the world’s best peacemakers who help children in need,” Callwood said.
“I’m extremely grateful for it because I know that I now have a new family with the World of Children staff and all the other honorees,” she added. “I also have a whole new line of support whether it’s giving advice or resources for a project that we have or anything like that. So I’m very excited and looking forward to the future with them.”
Callwood said she always lives by the saying that, “there’s no age limit on service” and her organization’s goal is to bring hope and solutions to children in need because they believe happiness shouldn’t have to wait.
Alongside her youth advisers, the founder brings the community together by hosting events and programs such as “Beach In A Bucket,” where sand-filled buckets with different arts and crafts such as an inflatable beach ball, sunglasses and more, are brought to sick kids. They also make get well cards during Valentine’s Day, prepare special Easter baskets and host a summer enrichment program for homeless and foster youth called Camp Happy.
The organization recently set up its third children’s library at Halls Cross Roads Elementary School, a Title 1 school in Aberdeen. Callwood, along with her family members and school staff were able to decorate the library and clean the window seals, shelves and more. They also stocked the books that were donated to the library.
Cancerve will continue to spread happiness for the rest of the year and in the future.
During the holidays the organization will be hosting their annual Breakfast Bags Bonanza event during Thanksgiving and winter break.
The event, which started in 2016, provides perishable breakfasts to homeless and foster children. This year Cancerve plans to give 1,700 bags to those in need.
The organization will also continue Threads of Hope, Cancerve’s first initiative; a clothing closet will be set up at Halls Cross Roads Elementary School to provide brand new children’s clothes.
Callwood is planning to expand the nonprofit’s reach to Washington, D.C. She said it makes her feel amazing to inspire others and provide hope for a brighter future.
“This is what I love to do,” she said. “Ever since I was young, I’ve always loved making my friends smile, making my family smile, random acts of kindness and just making others happy. So being able to put all that energy into one source and spreading it throughout the community is amazing to me. “
To learn more about The We Cancerve Movement and how to volunteer, check out their website here.