Teenagers running nonprofit encourage participation in North Texas Giving Day

Paper for Water helps the world water crisis through the art of origami.

Adults rarely if ever listen to the ideas and plans of elementary-aged little girls. But when those little girls speak with a united voice and come up with a tangible solution to an international crisis using only resources afforded to children, sometimes adults stop what they’re doing and listen.

More than 10 years ago, we started Paper for Water (PFW), a nonprofit participating in this North Texas Giving Day that is dedicated to helping solve the world water crisis through the art of origami. Since we started, we have been able to raise more than $3.5 million and fund more than 350 water projects in 20 countries including the United States. We were invited to be kick-off speakers for a UN Women’s meeting on sustainability and, more than a decade later during COVID-19 and quarantining, we used our united voice to write a book called One Piece of Paper at a Time.

PFW has been the single most important influence in shaping who we are today and the leaders we are striving to become. Our nonprofit has given us the opportunity to develop self-confidence through public speaking events, competency in the workplace through partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, and a global awareness through trips overseas to visit water projects and have conversations with the people who live there.

Our experiences and lessons are ones we try to teach to other kids. One of PFW’s most important programs is our Change Makers Council, a dedicated group of young volunteers who have committed their time to learn how to be better leaders and make the world a better place. PFW provides them with a unique opportunity to get real-life experiences that are rare and valuable for young people. Our Change Makers speak to investors of private equity firms, participate in TV interviews, and take charge of fundraising events. They are learning firsthand, as we did, how to be effective leaders while gaining skills that they will be able to use their whole lives.

PFW has taught us so many lessons about perseverance and grit, doubling down, and working harder even when times are tough because you know what you’re doing is making such a huge difference. We are going to continue to advocate for those without a voice and equip youth in Dallas to do the same. Young leaders are vital to creating sustainable development and lasting change, and it is our job to help give them the skills they need.

Ours is just one of many worthy causes celebrating North Texas Giving Day today. Whether it’s PFW or some other organization, we hope everyone who reads this will join us in the fight for a brighter future.

Isabelle Adams, 19, and Katherine Adams, 16, are co-founders and co-CEOs of Paper For Water. They wrote this for The Dallas Morning News.

We welcome your thoughts in a letter to the editor. See the guidelines and submit your letter here.


Get smart opinions

Editorial and commentary from op-ed columnists, the editorial board and contributing writers from The Dallas Morning News, delivered three days a week.

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy