"I want to tell people that you can make a difference in the world. Anytime you want.”
Dylan Siegel, 10 years old
The following is a true love story – of love between friends, a mom’s love for her son, and a boy with a dream so big it changed the world. Of all the powers we possess, the power of love is the greatest of all.
Dylan Siegel was 6 years old when he got the idea to raise a million dollars for medical research to help his best friend, Jonah Pournazarian, who had a rare liver disease. So rare, the odds of having the disease are 1 in a million.
It was the kind of disease Jonah could die from, the kind of disease that made kids stare at Jonah, instead of saying, “Hey, let’s play.” But Dylan was different, and he liked that Jonah was different too. Most of all, he liked how much they laughed together.
Dylan’s mom was willing to believe in her son, and his crazy confidence in an impossible dream. They talked about how to raise money. His mother suggested traditional fundraisers like bake sales or a lemonade stand. Dylan nixed those ideas. Way too small for his big plan.
“How about I could write a book?” he finally said. The next day Dylan got out his markers and wrote a picture book dedicated to Jonah. It was called Chocolate Bar. For Dylan, chocolate bar was code for anything awesome. All his favorite things were chocolate bar. Jonah was chocolate bar.
His mother could have corrected his English, tried to help him make his project perfect, or, like many parents might, talk him out of the project to save him from disappointment when he failed. Instead she agreed to make copies of his book. When he took the books to a school event, they sold out.
Making the book was just the start. Dylan took Chocolate Bar everywhere from PTA meetings to shopping malls. Anywhere he could, he approached people to tell them Jonah’s story. One of those people happened to be in the news media and picked up the story. Orders for books started pouring in from all over the world.
Dylan is now 10 years old. And yes, his intuition was right. His determination paid off, and his confidence in an impossible dream made the dream possible after all. It took several years, but it happened: Chocolate Bar has raised over $1,000,000. It has sold over 30,000 copies in 60 countries.
Best of all, Dylan’s cherished wish for a cure for Jonah is now within reach. Dr. David Weinstein, one of the few doctors who treat the disease, has this to say: “We are on the verge of treating this disease. And that would not have been possible if this 6-year-old boy hadn't created this book.”
We’d all like our kids to have Dylan’s confidence, determination and power of love! Now more than ever it is important to teach our kids to take action and make the world a better place. Here are some ideas to work into your family’s daily life.
Just like Dylan’s mom, say yes more than no. Confidence doesn’t mean that you are good at everything (no one is!) or that challenges are easy. Confidence means you do the best you can as often as you can. It grows through hard work and finding what gives you joy. Talk yourself up, not down. Encourage. Be Kind. Believe that you can. Be patient when you can’t. The power of confidence is what you believe about yourself.
We can build determination just like building muscles. Every time we face a challenge or try something new, our brains create new pathways. Whether we succeed or not, we get smarter just by trying. That’s why people who don’t give up eventually succeed. It may take 10,000 tries, but eventually they get there. It took Dylan four years to reach his goal, but he did it!
Intuition is a strength we often forget we have. Learning to trust your inner knowing takes practice. Creativity is a great way to get in touch with your intuition. Try keeping a journal. Write down your thoughts, feelings, poems, drawings, or anything that comes to you. There are no mistakes. Express yourself in any way you want. As Dylan said, “I knew that it was going to happen. I just - my instincts told me.”
Work generosity into your daily life. Help your child verbalize and think about how others feel. When children learn how to put themselves in another’s shoes, they begin to understand emotions on a deeper level. Generosity connects us to each other through doing active good. Generosity needs to be more than just a thought.
As many parents know, the most important lessons you’ll teach your kids happen in the everyday. The key to success is paying attention to these moments and capitalizing on them when they happen. When you see someone showing confidence, determination, intuition or generosity, point it out to your child and talk to him or her about why it’s a great example of how we can all make the world a better place.
Love Perfectly Awkward Tales,
Princess Ivana, Magdalene Smith & Marisa Smith
Perfectly Awkward Tales are girl-powered adventures where self-acceptance is the hero. Shop the collection.