11-year-old Orion Jean recognized as Kid of the Year for his commitment to kindness

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Monday, February 21, 2022
Kindness earns 11-year-old Kid of the Year honors
"If we continue giving back, then it makes us feel like we're getting something just simply by being kind," Orion Jean said.

An 11-year-old from Texas has made it his mission to make the world a kinder place.

Orion Jean was named TIME's Kid of the Year for 2021 after yet another year of paying it forward.

"For me, it can take on so many different forms from just smiling at somebody or holding the door, or even donating food to a local food bank or giving away old toys that you don't need," Jean said.

For Jean, it all began two years ago when he won the National Kindness Speech Contest

"At the time that I wrote the speech, COVID was really beginning to pick up. The world seemed like it had shut down and hope was like--it was like, Where is it? Where is the hope? Where's the love? Where is the kindness?"

His winning speech earned him a $500 prize, but he didn't use that money to buy a video game or go get some sweet treats.

Instead, Jean paid it forward again, creating Race to Kindness--an initiative to support kindness projects in his community.

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11-year-old Orion Jean is on a mission to answer one question: How can kindness change a nation? Watch the full @Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade on ABC Saturday, December 25th at 10am EST.

The first kindness project was a toy drive to benefit patients at a local children's hospital.

When that finished, he moved on to a food drive, delivering 100,000 meals to families in need in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

But he didn't stop there. The next event was a book drive where Jean collected and delivered 500,000 books to kids at book fairs across the country.

"I used the things that I saw on the news every day," Jean explained. "People losing their jobs and their homes and access to food and books and clothing--things we sometimes can take for granted, and with a little bit of kindness, we can hopefully give back those things. If we continue giving back, then it makes us feel like we're getting something just simply by being kind."