Photo by Sun StarThere are traits we wish we could teach our kids — like generosity, bravery, and honesty — that are especially inspiring, particularly in a year when the media focused on examples of the worst kind of humanity.

Even despite hardship, tragedy, or accident of birth, these ten kids can teach a lesson to every adult. As 2011 nears, let’s look to our youth for inspiration while we nurture these traits in ourselves:

1) FORESIGHT: Girl Saves Hundreds of Islanders After Sounding Alarm

A 12 year-old girl saved the lives of scores of island inhabitants 373 miles from the Chilean coastline, when she sounded the village alarm following a massive earthquake. A Giant tsunami wave descended on their islands within minutes, destroying a good portion of the lowlands, from which many were able to flee. (Read the story)

2) BRAVERY: 9-Year-old Hero Saves Drowning Brother with CPR

Logan Hearn kept his cool under frightening circumstances when his baby brother Brendan was found by their mother floating face-down in the family’s pool. The articulate boy is being credited with saving the 2-year-old’s life in Illinois, thanks to a life-saving CPR class and his willingness to step in and correct his distraught parent. (Story w/ video)

3) RESILIENT SPIRIT: Homeless Mexican Boy Defies Odds, Becomes Valedictorian

At 14 years old, Victor Cardenas was kicked out by his mother, had no food and no place to live. Yet, with a survivor’s instinct and kindness from his high school friends, he found his voice by picking up a video camera and telling his story. With undeterred spirit, the boy aced several advanced placement tests, mastered the Russian language, and was accepted into Texas A&M University. His teacher even adopted him. (Story w/ video)

CNN Hero built a playgound in Russian homeland4) COMPASSION: Adopted Russian Orphan Raised $60,000 to Build Playground Back Home

While an infant in a Russian orphanage, Alex weighed less than 2 pounds and  had a mild case of cerebral palsy, before a Maryland couple adopted him and nursed him back to health. As a teen, he found inspiration through a Boy Scout project, to give back to those Russians who helped him, building a playground for the other orphans there who previously had only dirt and broken equipment to inspire them. (Story w/ video)

5) HONESTY: Teens Find and Return $7,700 to Widow

A group of teens walking down the road found a woman’s purse containing more than $7,000 in cash. They decided to return the money to the owner and it turned out to be $7,000 intended to pay for a memorial for her late husband. The group of eight Kansas teens were honored by police officials and given rewards of $150 each, along with letters praising their honesty.

6) SENSE OF JUSTICE: 9-Year-old Girl Helps Police Nab Purse Snatcher

Quiana Coronado was sitting by the window doodling when she witnessed a man snatching a purse from an elderly woman on a Milwaukee, Wisconsin street. She yelled to her parents and sprung into action keeping sight of the robber as he took off down an alley. She and her father ran to their truck, followed, and foiled his getaway along an adjacent alleyway. (Story w/ video)

down-syndrome-homecoming-queen7) EBULLIENCE AND KINDNESS: Down Syndrome Student Crowned Homecoming Queen

Not only does Rachel Cooperstein have Down syndrome, she participates as a regular cheerleader in the all-inclusive squad at San Francisco’s Dublin High School. This year she was crowned Homecoming Queen — a title her fellow classmates were thrilled to give her in a secret ballot. (Story w/ video)

8) RESOURCEFUL CALM: 9-Year-old Boy Saves Burning Sister

Even firefighters are calling a little boy from Harrisburg, Illinois a hero. He saved his little sister’s life after her hair, face, and arms caught on fire. The nine-year-old heard her screams, ran into the room and wrapped her in a wet towel, that had been haphazardly left on the floor by an older cousin. (Story w/ video)

9) CREATIVE GENEROSITY: Bird Drawings by Young Girl Raised Fortune for Gulf Wildlife

Saddened by what the oil spill was doing to wildlife near her family’s summer home on the Gulf coast, an 11-year-old began creating pictures of birds to raise money for rescue operations. Her mom started a Facebook page which propelled the total amount raised to $200,000. (Story w/ video)

porsche-boxter-s-200010) PERSISTANCE: Teen Trades Cell Phone, Gets Porsche on Craigslist

High school student Steve Ortiz is zipping around in a 2000 Porsche Boxster that he acquired as a result of trading up his cell phone on the Craigslist bartering page. It took him just 14 trades over two years — but a lot of time patience — to finally acquire the sports car. (Video and story at KTAL)


  1. The first nine stories are truly inspiring. I could have done without the last one, though, which only “shows” us how to get more material stuff for oneself. While this is not a bad thing, I feel this story has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the truly inspiring, moving, and profound nine stories before it. Next time, stick to nine stories if you can’t really find a tenth one that is as inspiring.

  2. The tenth one *does* belong in this list.
    If you think about it, looking at the bigger picture, a child with this level of persistence, patience, and DRIVE, is the one who will grow up and start the innovative companies that will employ millions of workers, who are lesser motivated.
    The traits above are varied, but this one is just as valuable for living a worthwhile life — and just as inspiring.

  3. Hi Geri,

    Just wanted to commend you for the wonder-filled stories you provide for us including that last one which is all about persistence. After reviewing the daily newspaper this a.m., it was so good to get online and read the GOOD News!

    Thank, thank you, thank you!

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