Call Off The Kids

Do you think a teenager can change the world?
Do you think young people are really capable of making a difference? 

These questions may seem daunting.  
It may seem as young people, we do not have the resources or the power to actually create change in our society.

But if that is your belief, I’d like to prove you wrong. 

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to meet Danielle
Strickland. (www.DanielleStrickland.com

Danielle serves in The Salvation Army as an officer - currently doing
grassroots work in marginalized communities.  She also helps lead
“Stop The Traffik,” an anti-human trafficking campaign that is working to truly eradicate the injustice of human trafficking from our world. 

Danielle is a woman who believes in the impossible.  She says, “The great social reformers let justice fire their imagination and spirit into dreaming and working for a better world. We want to re-ignite your imagination of a better world and challenge the notion that changing the world is impossible…to simply imagine it will not be enough. Just imagine the world for God and join us in making that dream a reality.” 

But she is not only a woman who believes in the impossible for adults. 
She is a woman who believes in the impossible for the next generation. 

While I was with her last week, she told a story that confirmed everything I have said on this blog.  

While she was living in Australia she led a conference for young people that was attended by 2,000 teenagers.   They had different speakers come to speak to the students, but one speaker stood out above the rest. 

This speaker spoke to the students about the horrors of human trafficking. and told the students that 80% of the cocoa beans that make up our chocolate are actually harvested by slaves in the west countries of Africa.  Many of these slaves are children as young as 10 years old. 

The speaker showed a video clip of a BBC documentary called “Chocolate- The Bitter Truth.” In this documentary, the BBC reporter asks a rescued slave if there is anything he would like to say to the people who are eating the chocolate.  

The ex-slave replies, “Stop it. You’re eating my blood.” 

Danielle said the entire room fell silent. 
2,000 teenagers were in the room and not one of them knew what to say. 

As Danielle walked back on the stage in front of the students after that experience, she had no idea what to do. 

The 2,000 teenagers didn’t know what do either, but they knew they had to do SOMETHING.

Do you ever feel like that? 

Have you ever been faced with an injustice and you had no idea know what to do?
Have you ever felt paralyzed with the weight of it all?

So there stood Danielle, surrounded by 2,000 silent teenagers, and no one knew what to do.

But then, from the crowd, one teenager spoke up and said, “Why don’t we just stop eating chocolate made by slaves? And what if we tell the chocolate companies we won’t eat the chocolate until they change the way it’s made?” 

For a problem as big as child slavery, don’t you need a ten step strategy that includes millions of dollars and high powered politicians? 

It can’t be so simple, can it? 

But, as Danielle says, all you really need is what is in your hand. 
Sometimes, the most powerful thing you can do is whatever YOU can DO. 

When a problem is big, we can feel paralyzed.

But on that day, 2,000 teenagers decided they would rather do SOMETHING rather than NOTHING.

Perhaps, that is the only strategy we need.  

2,000 teenagers decided to write a letter. 
They wrote letters to the major chocolate companies that said, “We will not eat your chocolate until you tell us it is slave free.” 

And these 2,000 teenagers made a pledge to each other that they would not eat or buy chocolate unless they knew it was certified as ethically produced. 

But the movement didn’t end with the letters.
In fact, it continued to grow. 

Because once a young person starts making an impact in the world and once they find a cause bigger than themselves to fight for, they will NOT give up on it. 

As young people, we are CRAVING influence.  We want to find a cause we can give our lives for.  
And when we find it, we become some of the most passionate people in the world. 

The students were not done. 
The teenagers organized "a funeral march for the M&M guys," they gathered all the chocolate in the homes and threw it away. They called the chocolate companies. They shipped a ton of bricks that read, “End Slavery” to Cadbury’s office. 

These 2,000 teenagers had been unleashed.
They were sharing the message with their friends, and the movement was growing. 

At one point, Cadbury Chocolate even called Danielle’s office and said, “Please, call off the kids!” 

And she said, “No can do.” 

She said, “This Generation is committed to ending Human Trafficking. And we are going to do SOMETHING rather than NOTHING.” 

And you know what happened?

Within 12 months, the heads of the chocolate industry all across Europe called a meeting. 
These high powered individuals got together and decided they would change the way they produced cocoa because a group of teenagers had caught their attention. 

Friends, young people have influence in our world! 

All across Europe, fair trade chocolate is being sold in grocery stores because a group of 2,000 teenagers decided they would do SOMETHING rather than NOTHING. 

The fight is not over.
But the fight has begun.
And it began with teenagers. 

I want to invite you to do SOMETHING rather than NOTHING. 

Influence isn't complicated.
Changing the world doesn’t have to be hard.

Sometimes, it just starts with the chocolate you eat. 

So here is a challenge every single person reading this blog can do:
Decide to stop eating chocolate produced by slaves. 
It’s that simple. 

How do you know if your chocolate is slave-free? 
Many chocolate companies today both big and small are taking steps towards becoming slave free! But there is still progress to be made.
There are many ways to know if the chocolate you eat is slave free.
One way is to buy chocolate that features a symbol similar to those below:    

Let’s do SOMETHING rather than NOTHING.

Every time you eat chocolate now, you can know you are speaking up for the kind of world you want. 
Every time you purchase ethically made chocolate, you are changing the world. 

Congratulations. 
You are officially a World Changer. 

Curious which chocolate you should buy?  
Many chocolate companies are making strides towards being slave free! 
Here is a link to a list of slave-free chocolate: 
http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/ethical-chocolate-companies/

ome of my favorite fair trade chocolate brands include: 
Altar Eco Chocolate
Endangered Species Chocolate
Divine Chocolate
Aldi, Whole Foods, Marianos, and Trader Joes are also great places to find Fair Trade Chocolate.

If you want more information on how you can send letters to chocolate companies, host a chocolate party, or become further educated on slave-free chocolate check out the link here: http://www.stopthetraffik.org/us/chocolate