Free The Children began with a story one boy couldn’t ignore.
How it all started . . .
Free The Children’s mission is to create a world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. And we couldn’t have a better blueprint for success: the organization was founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labour. He was 12.
A morning to remember.
That morning, Craig flipped through the Toronto Star in search of the comics, he was struck by a story. A raw, but courageous story of a boy his age named Iqbal.
Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and sold into slavery at the age of four. In his short life, he had spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom. Iqbal captured the world’s attention by speaking out for children’s rights.
A dream is sparked.
Eventually, Iqbal’s wide media coverage caught the attention of those who wished to silence him. At 12, Iqbal lost his life defending the rights of children.
What Craig learned from Iqbal’s story was that the bravest voice can live in the smallest body.
Craig had to do something.
A movement begins.
Craig gathered together a small group of his Grade 7 classmates from his Thornhill, Ontario, school and Free The Children was born.
Free the children from poverty. Free the children from exploitation. Free the children from the notion that they are powerless to effect change.
Those are the messages that sparked Craig’s passion, and continue to fuel the mission of the organization today. Every day the movement grows and every day more young people are free to achieve their fullest potential.
A network of young people grows into a movement.
Today, Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, with more than 2.3 million youth involved in our innovative education and development programs. Since its inception, Free The Children has worked in more than 45 countries. Free The Children currently works in eight developing countries with its Adopt A Village program.
Learn more about the results and impact of Free The Children’s work.