Magazine Feature / People

Artistic, entrepreneurial fifth-grader gives peace a chance

photo portrait

Alexander Khaldy, 11, is inspired by Ghandi to make the world a better place. PHOTO BY: David Pahl.

His friends call him “Bigfoot” because of his ability to boot a soccer ball, and at first glance, Alexander Khaldy appears to be an average 11-year-old. But his proudest accomplishments take place off the soccer field.

Alexander employs his artistic talents to raise money for international human-rights campaigns. 

A fifth-grader at DU’s Ricks Center for Gifted Children, Alexander has drawn and sold hundreds of one-of-a-kind greeting cards promoting ethnicity and culture. The proceeds from his creative endeavors — totaling $6,000 so far — helped orphans and refugees in the Sudan and South India, high-school students in Transylvania, and victims of Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami. 

“It makes me feel happy and good to know that I’m making this world a better place,” he says. “What I’ve done — this type of work — it could be done by anyone.” 

In August, Alexander received Colorado’s Youth for Human Rights Hero Award, recognizing his efforts to support people whose basic human rights are being violated. And he was the youngest attendee at the Youth for Human Rights International Summit held at the United Nations in August. 

He says he was inspired by the international youth activists at the summit, and he hopes to motivate more children to raise money for global human-rights causes. The trip was sponsored by Youth for Human Rights, an organization that encourages youth to act as agents for positive social change in their communities and abroad. 

In December, Alexander traveled to Kuwait where he spoke to a group of high-school girls about human rights. He will speak at the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference at Cherry Creek High School in February. 

His activism was sparked by his mother, Anita, a University of Denver alumna who graduated with three degrees in 1986. She works closely with the First Universalist Church of Denver organizing weekly community forums and hosting events at their family home in Centennial, and she says Alexander is often an active part of these meetings. 

“I believe children are the new social activists,” she says. “Women have received emancipation, and now it’s time for our children to make a difference.” 

While Alexander is American born, he says his diverse heritage — Arabic, German and East Indian — may explain his inner passion for peace. 

Gandhi is his biggest inspiration as a human rights leader because of his non-violent efforts to initiate peace. 

Alexander’s philanthropic work is a welcome part of the curriculum at Ricks. His school recently held a fundraiser and raised nearly for $1,000 for UNICEF selling T-shirts, necklaces and cups. The money was used to purchase land in a South American rainforest to help save the endangered ecosystem. 

“As a school we do a variety of community service projects,” says Ellen Honeck, an admissions and administrative coordinator at Ricks. “We utilize an integrated curriculum so the community service ties into the unit of study.”  

This article originally appeared in The Source, February 2007.

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