Meet TIME’s Top Kid of the Year Finalists

4 minute read

Each year, TIME and Nickelodeon launch a nationwide search across social media and school districts to find kids age 8 to 16 who embody five key attributes: determination, passion, kindness, bravery, and innovation. The result is TIME’s Kid of the Year, and these finalists are each changing the world in unique ways, big and small.

Lujain Alqattawi, 13
Millersville, Md.
Alqattawi created “Sparkle,” an organization that offers online English lessons for children, especially those living in refugee camps.

Mina Fedor, 13
Oakland, Calif.
Fedor founded AAPI Youth Rising (AYR), a group of middle school activists. AYR works to collect and donate ethnically diverse books to California public libraries, and has partnered with national organizations to raise awareness and support education on racism, ethnic diversity and AAPI issues in schools nationwide.

Orion Jean, 11
Mansfield, Texas
Jean created “A Race to Kindness,” an initiative to help others and spread kindness. With his community, Jean has collected and distributed more than 100,000 meals to those in need, and 500,000 books to kids with none at home.

Sammie Vance, 13
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Vance works to install Buddy Benches in her area. The idea of the bench is that it’s a safe place to signal that someone is looking for a friend or a connection. If you are lonely, you can sit on the bench. If you see someone on the bench, you can sit with them and lessen their feelings of loneliness and alienation.

Alena Wicker, 13
Cedar Hill, Texas
Wicker created an organization called “Brown STEM Girl” to offer mentorship, engagement, opportunities and advocacy to girls of color in STEM under age 18.

Lino Marrero, 15
Frisco, Texas
Marrero is an inventor who was honored recently for his ingenuity at the first Annual Invention Convention Globals presented by Raytheon Technologies. His invention, Kinetic Kickz 2.0, placed first in the 6th-8th grade category.

Jayden Perez, 12
Woodland Park, N.J.
Perez established a non-profit called “From the Bottom of My Heart” to collect donations and resources to help those in need.

Ethan Hill, 11
Birmingham, Ala.
Hill created “Ethan’s Heart Bags 4 Blessings” to call for donations and then create packages of food and other necessities, which he delivers to homeless members of his community (with help from his parents and local police officers).

Gauranji Gupta, 11
Redmond, Wash.
Gupta founded Youth4Us, which operates programs like a Bookaid (give a book, take a book), art classes every week, painting birdhouses to donate to charities, and reading classes.

Ruby Kate Chitsey, 14
Harrison, Alaska
Chitsey founded “Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents”, a nonprofit organization in 2019. She and her Kid Board work with essential staff across America to fulfill small wishes for nursing home seniors.

Zoe Oli, 10
Atlanta, Ga.
Oli created “Beautiful Curly Me”, a line of dolls, hair care products, and books that she hopes can instill self confidence in young black and brown girls. She donates one doll to girls in foster care and shelters for every doll purchased.

Kai Shappley, 11
Austin, Texas
Shappley is a trans activist and testifies regularly against anti-trans legislation.

Cash Daniels, 12
Chattanooga, Tenn.
Daniels recruits local kids and teens to help him clean up tons of trash from rivers and other natural habitats.

Genshu Price, 14
Hauula, Hawaii
Price created Bottles4College as a way to merge his two passions: care for the environment on his beautiful island of Hawaii and funding college for kids who need help. He has recycled over 100,000 cans and bottles, and his goal is to create and sustain two annual college scholarships for Hawaiian students.

Miles Fetherston-Resch, 9
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Fetherston-Resch created “Kids Saving Oceans,” which sells merchandise (hats, shirts, and stickers) made from plastic that was reclaimed from the ocean and recycled. His online shop has generated over $23,000 in donations to ocean conservation organizations.

Samirah Horton, 13
Brooklyn, N.Y.
After being bullied herself, Horton wrote a song called “No, You Won’t Bully Me” that became a book called, “The Bully Stop.” She visits schools and presents to kids on her anti-bullying message, incorporating music and her DJ skills to connect and excite them.

Sadie Keller, 14
Lantana, Texas
After surviving cancer, Keller began “Sadie’s Sleigh,” collecting toys for childhood cancer patients. She has collected over 600,000 tons of toys, and raised $2 million dollars for research.

Khloe Joiner, 9
Missouri City, Texas
Joiner founded “A Book and A Smile” with a mission to donate 1 million books to children.

Jenell Theobald, 15
Beaverton, Ore.
Theobald created “Let’s Peer Up,” an organization that advocates for representation for those with mental and physical disabilities.

Read more about the 2021 TIME Kid of the Year finalists here.

Watch the Kid of the Year broadcast special, hosted by Trevor Noah, on Nickelodeon on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 7:30pm/6:30pm CT to find out which finalist will be named TIME Kid of the Year

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