Great Lakes Credit Union and Little Lake County are proud to bring you Kirby Kids: Kids. Doing. Good. This program recognizes a child each month that is doing good in their community and brings you their stories of determination, hope and goodwill. This month, we are lucky to be able to highlight TWO young people who are making a difference!
Passion and determination are two of many words that describe Scotty and Mitchell, two high school aged boys from Lake County. Determined to make the digital community a better place for children, they realized that they needed to take action, and worked hard to make a difference.
It all started almost two years ago when Mitchell observed his younger brother, just seven years old at the time, watching a Minecraft video. Almost immediately, he realized that there was inappropriate language on the video and asked his brother to turn it off and choose another video. Unfortunately, that one had questionable language in it as well. Mitchell began some research and discovered that over 90% of Minecraft videos include inappropriate language and content, and children could be exposed to it all, instantaneously, by viewing these videos on popular streaming sites such as YouTube and Twitch. Even more concerning? Mitchell learned that the average age of the viewer being subjected to the content…was only eight years old. Mitchell wanted to change that, and he set forth on a path to change the digital community to make the videos safer and more appropriate for young viewers, not only in his own home, but everywhere.
Pairing up with his friend Scotty, the boys took on a challenge that they were both passionate about. They both wanted parents to feel confident that their children had a safe place to enjoy viewing Minecraft videos, without any inappropriate language or content. Together, the boys created Clean Minecraft Videos, a start up company that they co-founded, designed to bring the things that mattered most to them, to children everywhere. A safe environment for kids was their number one priority, and what started as an idea, has evolved over the past three years into a successful company, website and mobile app on Google Play and Apple App Store.
Clean Minecraft Videos holds more than 600 videos from 10 different series, all manually screened to ensure every video is appropriate for young audiences. Currently, these young entrepreneurs have over 650 members on their site and mobile apps, and are hoping for many, many more. Mitchell and Scotty have not only invested a great deal of time by creating and running their own company, but also by attending many technology conferences and discussing the ongoing issue of the lack of digital censorship. They have sold their idea as a solution for kids looking to watch Minecraft videos, but having an experience doing so that is age appropriate.
The boys have been on a great adventure since acting on their desire to make a difference three years ago. Besides investing a lot of their time creating their company and designing their website and app, they have also been making the rounds promoting their business and spreading the word about digital awareness. The company has been featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, and the boys were keynote speakers at the 2016 Students Involved with Technology (SIT) Conference and the Illinois Computer Educators’ (ICE) Conference in 2016. They continue to be active in their quest to raise digital awareness and create solutions to the issues they see in the digital community.
Despite their strong work ethic and inspiring pursuit to make a difference, their road has been long, and often peppered with obstacles. Besides the obvious struggle of balancing school, activities, developing and managing a company at such a young age, one of the biggest hurdles that they had to face was developing and publishing their Apple iTunes App. The two boys worked tirelessly for over a year to design, debug and publish the app. After submitting twenty five different versions of their app to the Apple App Review Team, their app was finally accepted for publication. They were so excited, but then quickly let down when the app was given a “12+ rating”. That was not what the boys were expecting, but instead of giving up, they spent another large amount of their time and money to rework it and resubmit it for review. After an exhausting two years of research and redevelopment with the company, the app was finally approved, and better yet, it was going to be offered at a “4+ rating” which is the lowest age rating an app can be given. Despite its sometimes grueling work, the boys gained so much during the process. Besides the good that they were doing for kids, they also began to understand the importance of effective communication, how to compromise in times of dispute, how to manage their time effectively all while gaining so much real life experience that is rare for young people to encounter at this time in their lives.
Scotty and Mitchell remain devoted to making their company as successful as possible, but most of all, to help children have access to safe and fun digital videos. Scotty believes that “If you feel like something is wrong, start small to do something about it, and then focus on having a larger impact on those around you.” Mitchell agrees, stating, “To make a change in your community, create a solution to a problem that affects you directly, and run with it!” The boys both did exactly that, and have a lot to show for their hard work throughout the past three years.
Would you like to contribute to Mitchell and Scotty’s journey to making the digital world a safer place for kids of all ages? The boys are so thankful to each and every person that joins their digital community and supports their endeavors. Check out their website, and find them in the app store too. Sign up and support them by using their products, make a contribution on their website, and spread the word to family and friends about this amazing endeavor by two inspiring young people.
These boys never gave up, no matter how hard it became. They sacrificed their time and money for the development of their company and the change it would bring to children. They are passionate about technology, and devoted to making the digital world a safer place for children. They are motivated by their work and we are inspired by their success. They are true role models in every sense, and serve as an example for others to act on their desire to make a difference and see change in the world.
Each and every one of our Kirby Kids gets to meet Kirby the Kangaroo at their local Great Lakes Credit Union branch. Kirby met Scotty and Mitchell at their local Crystal Lake Branch and opened up a youth savings account in their names with a $100 starting balance, courtesy of Great Lakes Credit Union.
Do you know an inspirational, courageous or exceptional young person living in Lake County, (age 15 or younger) who is serving as a role model in his or her community? Help us recognize these big hearts! Nominate a child for the Kirby Kids program.
Follow this link to complete a nomination form. If your nominee is selected we will contact you and/or the child’s guardian for inclusion in the Kirby Kids program.
For more information about the Kirby Kids, read our program introduction.
Disclosure: Great Lakes Credit Union is the paid sponsor of the Kirby Kids program.