In their short lives they have raised thousands of dollars for local charities, developed ways their school and community can be supportive of each other, and worked tirelessly to improve conditions for children around the globe.
These suburban teens far exceed expectations with their dedication to community and making the world a better place. They are the 2017-18 Daily Herald Leadership Team -- high school students who empower themselves to make change in the world through volunteerism and encouraging volunteer efforts in others.
This year's four teams -- representing the Northwest suburbs, Lake County, DuPage County and the Fox Valley -- include a student who co-created a foundation that cares for widows, the elderly and impoverished in India; another who organized a drive that raised more than $11,500 to buy toys for underprivileged children in the Chicago area; one who helped develop a low-cost tutoring service for kids in his community; and yet another who developed a nonprofit organization that brings sports equipment in the suburbs to Chicago children.
"I was fortunate to be born with caring parents, live in a supportive town, and attend a community-oriented school; I have a plethora of opportunities available to me that many do not," said Aaron Chen of Libertyville High School, who organized a drive to collect ACT and SAT prep books for kids at Waukegan High School. "By keeping my eyes open to the world around me, I hope to help those who have not had the same good fortune as myself."
Giovanni Ahern of Benet Academy in Lisle writes about his experience helping to build a house in Guatemala.
"The family whose house we were building could barely sit still with excitement," he said. "Their gratitude and compassion have imparted on me a deep desire to advance the lives of the less fortunate."