January 18, 2021 SPOTLIGHT ON…WILLOW PHELPS!!! When Willow Phelps was in fourth grade, she was named Kid of the Year by the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). She had been caring for animals for years—not just the assortment of pets she had at home, but all kinds of animals all over the world! She had done 5K runs, mile-long swims, and sewn and sold catnip toys to raise over $15,000 for different causes. Some of the causes she raised money for include homeless pet owners, chimps in Liberia, orcas in aquariums, and senior shelter pets. One of Willow’s special projects happened close to home. At her school carnival every year, there was a booth where students threw ping pong balls at goldfish in glass bowls. If they hit a bowl, they got to take home a goldfish in a bag. This didn’t seem right to Willow! “Goldfish can hear really well,” she explained, “so when they hear those ping pong balls pinging against their bowls, it probably hurts them and scares them. And then when they got home, a lot of them might not have the right care.” Willow not only got her school to stop the goldfish booth, but she also raised the money to make up for what the school used to earn at the booth. Now Willow’s in seventh grade and she’s still throwing herself into helping animals and the environment. Over the last couple years, climate change has hit close to home for Willow, who is a competitive swimmer. Her swim team had to cancel their season because the lake they swim in became infested with blue algae bloom, which is unsafe to swim in. And then the surf camp she attends every summer, Girls Wave Riding Surf School was cancelled because of a hurricane. Both hurricanes and blue algae bloom are made worse by climate change. But Willow’s not just going to sit around and watch while climate change threatens the activities she loves, and even more importantly, the habitat of the animals she adores. She has marched for climate change awareness in New York City, and is part of a lawsuit against the federal government over climate change. How cool is that?! Go Willow! I know Willow is just getting started and I can’t wait to see what she does next! What’s something that you’re really passionate about? What are some things you can do to start spreading awareness about that topic? Enlighten us in the comments section below!