At the age of 10, Orion Jean set a lofty goal for himself in November 2020—he “wanted to collect and donate 100,000 meals for families in need.” Orion has also “organized campaigns focused on doing good deeds for others, including his race to kindness initiative.” Last week, TIME for Kids and Nickelodeon announced their second annual Kid of the Year, and Orion, the who hails from Texas, took home the prize, becoming the first Black person to accomplish this feat.
Orion spoke with Angelina Jolie in a TIME interview about his humanitarian efforts: “Well, to me, it can be a number of things. And the one that I started was the race to kindness. The race to kindness is not just a series of events, but also a call to action. It’s a way to get people involved in the community, you know, and when they see something happening now they can go out and do something about it…kindness is a choice, and while we can’t force others to be kind, we can be kind ourselves and hope to inspire other people. So many people have great ideas but never act on them. I think it’s all about really caring about the issues that you’re seeing. Someone told me that you have to find something that breaks your heart for you to really get out there and make a difference in that area. And I want others to know that they can start today. If there’s an issue or problem or something that they see that they want to solve, all it takes is really just knowing deep down inside that it’s something you care about, and you can go out and get started.”
TIME CEO and editor-in-chief, released a statement saying, “Choosing the Kid of the Year, now in its second year, is sheer inspiration. And Orion personifies it…When he was just 9 years old, he won a student kindness contest and donated his $500 prize to a local children’s hospital…Since then, he’s collected and donated hundreds of thousands of books, meals, and toys to those in need…Orion not only launches big efforts to fix problems he sees in everyday life, like food insecurity and lack of access to education. He also inspires others to join him, bringing local communities and governments together to help the neediest among us.”
In winning this award, Orion beat out thousands of other submissions, and will be featured on the February 28/March 7 cover of the issue of TIME, and are also recognized during a television special. Additionally, “[e]ach of the five Kid of the Year honorees will receive a cash prize and have the opportunity to serve as a Kid Reporter for TIME for Kids with exclusive access to a Nickelodeon event.”