Published On: Fri, Apr 26th, 2019

Celebrating Ordinary Youths Who Accomplish Extraordinary Things Through Service

C. Ron Allen

Boca Raton, FL – When given the opportunity, our young people can be invaluable assets and resources to their communities.

We saw that just last weekend when a group of local youth spent the day feeding their needy neighbors as part of a national annual campaign where children and youth address critical issues and change their communities.

The students, from Boca Raton and Spanish River Community High, St. Andrews High, Don Estridge High Tech Middle, Pine Crest, American Heritage Boca/Delray and several others in the tri-county area, joined millions of young people around the globe who served and celebrated as part of the 31st Annual Global Youth Service Day on April 12-14.

Led by Joshua’s Heart Boca Raton Chapter president, Colin Wanless, the group served nearly 600 people from the Lauderdale Manors community close to 8,000 pounds of food and donated clothing, books and toys.

“There is a lot of people in need in far too many neighborhoods throughout South Florida,” Wanless, a 9th grader at The American Heritage School – Boca Delray Campus, said in a news release. “I am always happy when our Joshua’s Heart Team can make a difference in the lives of the many communities we serve.”

Along with its Boca Raton chapter, the North Miami Beach-based Joshua’s Heart Foundation has another in Connecticut.

We oftentimes worry about what the future will be in our kids’ hands. But if this group is any indication, I think we will be in good hands.

It is so gratifying to see our young people not only serving but taking lead roles in volunteer projects that make an impact on their community. They are ready, willing and able to tackle the world’s most difficult challenges, yet they are vastly underrepresented as active citizens, decision-makers and leaders.

It is always wonderful to see youth show their generous spirit and willingness to help others.

As someone who devote much of my free time mentoring young people, I know that even a few minutes of their time and involvement in such projects opens up their minds or their world to other things.

Even in the Midst of a Life-Threatening Malady, a 12-year is Doing her Part to Help Others

Her smile will light up a room. And Janiyah Mayfield, who lives with sickle cell, is turning her pain into power by using it to motivate and uplift other children.

The Greenacres girl has written a 21-page book about her experience coping with sickle cell disease with the hope of helping other children.

“I want to encourage and inspire other kids like me who have sickle cell anemia or any other chronic disease,” Janiyah, 12, told me at a book signing in Delray Beach recently. “I hope, by sharing my experience, I can help other young people deal with being in a crisis.”

Throughout the book, ‘Sickle Cell Won’t Defeat me,’ Janiyah lists 10 of the things she goes through the most. And alongside each crisis she shares positive quotes that have helped her push through the painful life-threatening experiences.

“As Sicklers, we battle with unimaginable pain, so I hope this book of inspiring quotes helps you deal with your pain just as they help me when I am in a crisis,” she wrote in her introduction.

“I wish I can play in the pool, but I can’t. I am having joint pain,” she wrote under an illustration of a child sitting on the edge of a pool with her feet in the water.

On the opposite page is an illustration of a boxing champ, ready to make a knockout in a boxing ring: “God gives his battles to the strongest Soldiers,” she quotes an unknown author.

C. Ron Allen can be reached at or 561-665-0151.


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