FREE THE CHILDREN: EVEN A 12 YEAR OLD BOY CAN
CHANGE THE WORLD
The story behind FTC.
“Battled Child Labour, Boy, 12, Murdered.” No one knew that this short, but powerful headline would catch the eye of 12-year-old
Craig Kielburger one April morning in 1995. More so, no one knew that it would spark an entire social movement.
Watch a clip of “It Takes a Child”, the story of Craig Kielburger and Free The Children.
Free The Children was founded by 12-year-old Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labour. Today, Free The Children is the world's largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million young people involved in our programs in 45 countries.
A morning to remember
As 12-year-old Craig flipped through the Toronto Star in search for comics, he was struck by a story. A raw, but courageous story of a boy his age named Iqbal. Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and sold into slavery at the age of four. In his short life, he had spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom. Iqbal captured the world's attention by speaking out for children's rights.
A dream is sparked
Eventually Iqbal's wide media coverage caught the attention of those who wished to silence him. At 12 Iqbal lost his life defending the rights of children. What Craig learned from Iqbal's story was that the bravest voice can live in the smallest body. He also knew he had to help.
A good idea catches on
Craig gathered together a small group of his Grade 7 classmates from his Thornhill, Ontario, school and Free The Children was
born. Free the children from poverty. Free the children from exploitation. Free the children from the notion that they are powerless to
affect change. These were the messages that fuelled Craig's mission. The idea was a good one. And it caught on. Today, Free The
Children is the world's largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth involved in
our innovative education and development programs in 45 countries.
Children helping children.
Free The Children is the world’s largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth
involved in our innovative education and development programs in 45 countries. Founded in 1995 by international child rights
activist Craig Kielburger, Free The Children has a proven track record of success. The organization has received the World’s
Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (also known as the Children’s Nobel Prize), the Human Rights Award from the World
Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, and has formed successful partnerships with leading school boards and Oprah’s
The primary goals of the organization are to free children from poverty and exploitation and free young people from the notion that
they are powerless to affect positive change in the world. Through domestic empowerment programs and leadership training, Free The Children inspires young people to develop as socially conscious global citizens and become agents of change for their peers
around the world.
Free The Children has built more than 650 schools and school rooms around the world and has reached more than one million young people through outreach in North America.
Our core values hang on the wall of every office and hallway of Free The Children around the world. From Canada to Kenya to Ecuador, each team member knows them by heart.
Children are at the centre of our work at home and abroad. Overseas, bringing quality education to all children is the foundation of
our international development model. Locally, our youth-oriented campaigns and outreach initiatives are grounded in the belief that
every young person’s contribution, no matter how small, deserves to be valued and honoured.
We recognize that we work with youth and with that comes greater expectations. We don’t just meet the minimum, we go above and
Regardless of a child’s circumstances, we strive to ensure that each of our local and global programs is accessible, well-researched and grounded in our core values.
To provide youth with relevant, engaging role models, we hire energetic staff with exceptional records in youth mentorship and international development work. Our board of directors includes educators, child experts and a youth advisory board, and our large
team of youth coordinators provides one-on-one support to youth and teachers in their volunteerism, advocacy, awareness raising
and fundraising efforts, regardless of their passion and cause.
We provide tangible opportunities for students to take action on global social and environmental issues. We highly discourage door
to door fundraising by young people. Moreover, all volunteering, fundraising and awareness-raising activities are complemented by
educational curriculum resources to ensure a deeper understanding of the issue they care about.
All Free The Children campaigns have corresponding curriculum materials which have been vetted through school boards, educator consultants and experts from academia. Our curriculum resources are highly esteemed and considered to be at the forefront of educator resources and are used by schools and school boards across North America.
Every Free The Children staff member has had a police background check, and we monitor all our social media sites to protect young internet users from online predators. We partner only with organizations who meet high ethical standards and work hard with
our partners to ensure it is always kids first.