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Balancing School, Sports and Social Work

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Balancing school, sports, and social life can be challenging for a 14 year old running a not-for-profit volunteer organization feeding the needy.

swimmer in pool

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.” --Dr. Seuss

Is my life the life of a normal 14 year old? I balance school, sports, and the task of running a not-for-profit organization called Katie’s Krops. To me, my life seems pretty normal. It wasn’t until I sat down to write this story that I realized maybe my life isn’t that of a typical 8th grader.

The big difference is Katie’s Krops, which helps kids start and maintain vegetable gardens that donate produce to feed those in need. Katie’s Krops has 55 vegetable gardens in more than 20 states. I started Katie’s Krops when I was 9 years old after I grew a 40-pound cabbage and donated it to a soup kitchen.

It can be a challenge to balance everything, but with the support of my family, friends, and the Katie’s Krops crew, everything always falls into place.

Every eighth grader attends school, and I am no exception. However, how I choose to balance school might be slightly different. Prior to starting middle school, my parents and I talked to the principal about my options. The principal wanted me to have the best of both worlds -- to be a normal student at Pinewood Prep and to also be able to grow Katie’s Krops. Pinewood has believed in my dream from the start, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without its support.

When I’m not in school, I’m working on Katie’s Krops or sharing my adventures through my website, my Lowe’s Creative Ideas blogs, and by writing a children’s book (currently awaiting publishing). I also serve on the Youth Advisory Board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a youth-led advisory group focused on childhood obesity issues.

Katie’s Krops also requires travel, TV show appearances and webcasts, sponsor meetings, speeches, and events. It’s so much fun to travel, and it allows me to go to lots of interesting places and meet some incredible people, such as President Bill Clinton, Matt Damon, and Jamie Durie.

I always make time for friends, family, and swimming. I’ve been swimming since I was 7 for my summer team and since 7th grade for the varsity team at my school. I make sure that nothing conflicts with my meets. We reschedule our Katie’s Krops dinners, travel, and other events. Does this mean that occasionally my two worlds collide and a crew filming a documentary on hunger might show up at a meet? Yes, but at least I don’t miss a meet.

So how do I balance being a student, swimmer, and kid with a full-time job? It helps that my friends, school, coaches, and family support Katie’s Krops. But the real magic comes from the dream that is Katie’s Krops -- the dream that kids can help to end hunger one vegetable garden at a time.