As we continue the 10th birthday cele-bear-ation of the Build-A-Bear Workshop® Huggable Heroes® program we asked 2010 Huggable Hero Jourdan Urbach to share his tips on helping young people who want to make a difference get started.
At 21-years-old, Jourdan is a Julliard-trained concert violinist, a recent graduate from Yale and the National Director of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service. His commitment to give back and eventually become a Huggable Hero started when he was seven-years-old.
Jourdan Urbach: I’ve known since I was a young child that I wanted to use my passion for music and playing the violin to help others. My advice to anyone who wants to give back is to first look at your talents and skills and build a plan from there.
No person is too young or too busy to make contributions to those in need. An easy tip I like to share with kids looking to give back is to expand on an existing idea you have or contribute to another current project, rather than starting from scratch. Maybe you have an idea that would turn an existing project into something that will return awesome results. Networking, along with making friends who are like-minded and interested in helping others, can provide a real boost to your efforts. Keep an open mind to those around you – develop and foster relationships with potential mentors that will be there for you throughout your service initiative or entrepreneurial journey.
As young people, we have opportunities that are not available to most adults – we have the luxury of less being expected of us and of course, our charm. For example, I got my start at the age of seven when I wrote a letter to Dr. Fred Epstein, the leading pediatric neurosurgeon in the 1970s, because I was inspired by his work. The average person’s letter may not have been passed along to Dr. Epstein, himself, but because I was young and interested in a very mature topic, I stood out. Dr. Epstein eventually became one of my greatest mentors and encouraged me to found the organization, Children Helping Children. See, it just takes one tipping point to get you started!
Inevitably, there will be bumps along the road, but don’t let that discourage you. We can all learn from mistakes since they help lead you in the right direction – to great success! Having an interest in science and having done multiple experiments, I learned that a failed experiment was deemed a success since it meant I was one step closer to discovering the correct answer. So, keep at it – hard work pays off!
I encourage you to nominate young people you know who are making a difference in the world or even nominate yourself to be a 2013 Huggable Hero through Feb. 28. In celebration of the program’s 10th birthday, the 10 Huggable Heroes will each receive unique mentorship opportunities through the Jefferson Awards GLOBECHANGERS training system. This will help take your passion and great idea to the next level.
Having been a Huggable Hero myself, I have seen first-hand how the recognition can change people’s lives for the better and inspire others to follow on the path to helping others. Let’s show the world what youths are capable of and make a positive difference!
National Director of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service & 2010 Huggable Hero