In honor of International Youth Day, we’ll be sharing amazing stories about young anti-poverty advocates and the work they do throughout the month of August. The first in our series comes from 14-year-old Lulu Cerone, founder of Lemon:Aid Warriors and advocate for Blood:Water Mission. She inspires her peers to turn their passions into action and make a difference in the world around them.
When my mom told us to “go outside and have a lemonade stand,” she was probably just looking for a way to get her restless kids out of the house. She had no idea this would send us on a life changing path that led all the way to northern Uganda.
My mom believes in the potential of a lazy summer day. We never went to camp. We had to come up with stuff to do on our own. Lemonade stands were her go-to suggestion when we ran out of ideas. Plus, we actually learned about production, budgeting and marketing, even if it looked like we were just squeezing lemons and making posters. But when I learned that my lemonade could actually save someone’s life, everything changed.
Here’s what happened. I accidentally stumbled across Blood:Water Mission when I googled “free lemonade stand kit,” and it led me to their LemonAID Campaign. They offered an awesome kit with posters, T-shirts and balloons to make my stand look professional. Then I started reading their information on the water crisis in Africa. I saw their videos showing girls my age walking for miles every day to fetch dirty water that could make them sick or kill them.
When I learned that $1 could give a person in Africa clean water for one year, it unlocked something inside me. I realized I already had skills that could lead to powerful change. I didn’t have to wait to grow up to make an impact on my world. So me and my friends decided to donate our sales to help this cause. Suddenly, our lemonade stands became energized and the fun-factor doubled.
My friends wanted to keep going even after summer ended, so I founded LemonAID Warriors to create more kid-run events to make social activism part of our social lives. I held Water Walks and Back Yard concerts and then created a series of Philanthro-parties which caught the attention of Mattel. They asked me to share my ideas to create pro-social content for a campaign to engage over 4 million kids my age to take action.
This summer I traveled to Uganda with Blood:Water Mission. We met the local heroes who have implemented sustainable water solutions with the help of LemonAID Stands like mine. At one point I looked over at my mom. She was dancing and laughing with the women from a community that is thriving since their well was built last year. I thought of my first lemonade stand four summers ago, and I promised myself I would always trust the potential of a lazy summer day.