These are the wise words of a 15 year old from AYSO Region 116 in Chula Vista, Calif. Since the age of 8, Miguel knew he wanted to make a difference in the world. He founded Kids 4 Our World, an organization whose main purpose is to support local organic gardens and plant trees internationally.
“My dad has had his own foundation since I was little so I grew up in a household where giving back to the community is the normal thing to do,” shared Miguel.
There were a lot of great causes out there for a young boy to choose from, but after doing research he knew that deforestation was a serious problem he wanted to fix.
He started small with fundraisers and giving speeches in his local community. By age 10, he took Kids 4 Our World to new heights by writing a book and committing himself to plant ten trees for each book sold. He struggled immensely with writing (even in class), but instead of giving up, he dedicated at least 15 minutes a day to improve. By the end of that year, he had turned a cute short story about a family trip into a book called The Glowing Mask in Hawaii. This adventure book reached third overall in the National Best Sellers List of Books Written by Kids through KidPub Press.
“It was a great feeling writing that first book,” shared Miguel. “It let me know that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to.”
Miguel set a goal of planting 1,000 trees from the book sales, but was pleasantly surprised when he surpassed his goal and planted 13,000 trees in seven countries by partnering with the Trees For the Future Foundation. That’s a lot of extra green for the world!
When he was 12, Miguel was inspired to write a second book, The Mayan Prophecy, about a family trip he took to Mexico. This book resulted in thousands of additional trees being planted to help populate deforested lands in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Philippines, India and Kenya.
“I’m just happy about all of the support that I’ve received from publishing those books,” shared Miguel. “I want to write a third book to have an even bigger impact.”
But books were just the start of Miguel’s lifelong journey to improve the environment. In the past, Miguel had trees planted with his book sales, but this time around he wanted to feel the soil between his fingers and the sun beat on his back as he and a few friends would not only raise the money, but travel to Central America and plant the trees themselves.
“I’ve always been supported by my family in these endeavors, but I knew if I wanted to go further in helping the environment, I was going to need to bring some friends along,” said Miguel.
The six friends that Miguel chose to join him in this amazing journey played AYSO soccer together from a very young age. Through soccer they learned the importance of teamwork. These amazing friends are: Alex Avalos, Quike Avalos, Manuel Aguilera-Prieto, DJ O’Brien, Ryan Didonato and Gilbert Rodriguez.
Miguel and the gang have a goal of raising $23,000 by selling sponsorships and have already collected over $8,000 from local businesses and even his local AYSO Region.
The location Miguel picked to plant the trees is in a rainforest in Central America that is currently 90% deforested. They want to help create a stable environment for endangered monkeys, experience a culture exchange with the Maleku Indians who reside in the area, create global awareness about the environment and ensure there’s enough money raised for the upkeep of the trees after they leave. Not only are these current and former AYSO players planting trees, they’re also creating jobs in an area that is in desperate need of them.
Miguel was just 8 years old when he started to take action for a cause that he truly believes in and he’s still following his dream seven years later. He loves to share with everyone that his AYSO experience molded his leadership skills to become the young man he is today and he’s now using it to change the world one tree at a time.
If you're interested in the organization or want to learn how to get involved, click here.