The Teenager Inspiring Children to Save the World

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan

Community service is something that Rylee Brooke Kamahele from Hawai has been doing ever since she was a little girl along with her parents. 5 years ago, she decided she wanted to do even more.

Since then, she has (take a deep breath...) 

  • provided food and gifts to needy children in Hawaii every Christmas since 2017, 
  • worked to build kids into future leaders by turning a child’s passion into an advocate for change, 
  • reduced single plastic use in the state, 
  • lobbied for bills related to ocean conservation and wildlife protection,
  • provided a support system for children in the LGBTQ community and 
  • run a unique anti-bullying campaign.

She’s ALSO been (take a deep breath once more...) 

  • a runway model, 
  • an actor, 
  • hosted 3 local tv shows, 
  • managing 18 pets, 
  • was one of the top 10 at the 2018 Miss Hawaii Pre-Teen United States and
  • was named one of America’s Top Youth Volunteers by the 2020 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Makes you wonder what she will do when she turns 14, eh? Oh, right. Did I forget to mention… 

Rylee Brooke Kamahele  has achieved all of this by the 'extremely old’ age of 13!!

Rylee Brooke Kamahele

I got to chatting with this insanely talented young woman to find out how she does it all.

You have been helping people for years now. Can you tell us how it all began?

I grew up volunteering with my parents. You could kind of say that I was born into a life where we always served the community. I used to make care packages for the homeless when I was 4 years old and my mom would take me out to give them to people living on the street.

When I was 8, I won the title, Miss Hawaii Elementary America 2016 and learned that it was very hard for kids to volunteer with organizations here in Hawaii. 

girl wearing a crown

We had to fight for me to get involved because programs didn’t want to “babysit” kids during community service. With persistence and proving my work ethic, different organizations would allow me to volunteer with them.

This was the start of my first organization, the Love is a Verb Foundation. I currently partner with 20+ organizations who trust that the kids I bring under me will reflect that same kind of work ethic.

I co-founded The Secret Santa Project Hawaii in 2016 after my mom tasked me with finding a way to use my Christmas to bless other people. This came after my family had gone through our own hardships due to a car accident my dad was in. We nearly lost everything and because my brother and I grew up living a more privileged life, we actually behaved ungratefully when we had our first Christmas with just one present donated by the Angel Tree.

When my parents saw that behavior, they kind of cancelled Christmas as we knew it for us and told us we needed to create a new Christmas tradition that was about us giving back to others. I did my first donation drive and brought gifts to children in a shelter and my heart broke when it didn’t feel like Christmas at the shelter.

When I gave out gifts the kids were excited for even the smallest things. I was so moved that I decided to create my second organization. 

Through LIAVF, I found that community service was not enough to create the impact and change I wanted to see. I knew that I needed to do more and decided that the best way to do that is by reaching the public, speaking to people in power, and advocating for new laws. 

Could you tell me about 'The Catalyst Club'

The CatalystÊ»s Club (TCC) mission is to empower, equip, and enable kids to be a catalyst for change in the world. TCC serves as an umbrella covering three separate running organizations: 

  1. Secret Santa Project Hawaii (SSPH), 
  2. Love is a Verb Foundation (LIAVF), and 
  3. Promise To Our Keiki (PTOK).

LIAVF is probably my most complicated organization to explain. LIAVF’s mission is to build youth into leaders and provide opportunities to take what they love and turn that into action through training, education, community service, internships, mentorship, and a leadership program where they can start their own initiatives, projects, businesses, or organizations.

I really focus on setting the kids who participate up for success. That means first placing them in work that they love, understanding their capabilities, and finding ways for them to participate that highlight their strengths.

The mission of SSPH is to bring Christmas to Hawaii’s children in need. We run drives and do direct outreach during Christmas, spending time and running activities for families in shelters, camps, or programs.

Children posing for a photograph

PTOK’s mission is to create young leaders around the world and promote global change through education about the effects humans have on the planet through motivational speaking, advocacy, eventually documentaries produced by youth, and civics.


The question on every parent's mind, I guess - how do you find time in between studies to do so much for so many?

I am homeschooled, so that helps with my schedule a lot. I am able to do school on our own time and I incorporate my work into my schooling. For example, instead of writing an English paper, I draft bills, proposals, and articles like this.

I have a lot of real-life experience as well from working on hands on projects. I have been able to incorporate math into proposal and grant writing work, created and executed programs or events, and been actively involved in many different, educationally enriching activities.

Rylee Brooke

I also love that my curriculum is very flexible in a sense that I get to dig deeper into subjects that are relevant for the work I do. For example, researching for my program, The Plastics Project, and doing hands on plastic pollution work has been a science topic that I am always involved in.

Doing animal rescue and rehabilitation and working with partnering animal rescues and veterinarians has given me hands on learning experiences with animal care and the biology of different animals. I have learned to do IV, vaccines, microchips, wound cleaning, and many other rescue treatments and I learned a lot about things like sterilization and health. 

a girl with her pet dog

What do you reckon is your proudest moment till date?

I think my proudest moments are when I see other kids being confident in using their voices and pursuing things they are passionate about. 


There are a few kids who have worked with me since I started and some of them have started to arrange their own community service projects. I even have a girl who is talking to us about starting her own nonprofit!

I think those are some of the most rewarding moments for me because I know that I cannot make a big enough impact on this world alone. The more people work to make the world a better place, the better. Seeing other kids pursue their own passion is definitely exciting for me.

What message do you have for all of us?


The change starts with each of us wanting to do better and then actually taking a step to make it so. My advice is always to find what you are passionate about because your purpose is tied to your passion. Everyone is equipped with gifts and talents, so find ways to put those to work in what you’re passionate about. 

I think people overthink sometimes or they want to do the big things, but even the smallest gestures are impactful. Everyone has the means to do something, you just have to be creative and go for it!

Author's note:

Since 2017, every year, I take up the #BlogchatterA2Z challenge and focus on showcasing lovely real-life heroes from around the worldThe aim is to remind you that there is still plenty of good human beings all around you... to inspire you to smile once more.

Want more stories of compassion? 

I have Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' to brighten your day here. Earlier editions can be viewed from the links below:

2017 edition (Articles - 40, Heroes - 67)
2018 edition (Articles - 34, Heroes - 52)
2019 edition (Articles - 31, Heroes - 42)
2020 edition (Articles - 30, Heroes - 64)

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Let me know what you think.

  1. I mean! Wow!! Such little but such big works.!!

  2. We say teenagers are a pain! Look at her and her achievements! Her parents were the guiding light but she has shone at such a tender age. Kudos to the young girl and may she work wonders.

  3. Wow, Rylee Brooke Kamahele is truly Kamaal. Such commendable teenager, I literary had to take deep breaths reading all her achievements, and put me in awe for her. Kudos to the catalyst club.

  4. Of course had to take many deep breaths. She is so inspiring at such a young age
    Deepika Sharma

  5. This mini miss is so adorable and her action are indeed so praiseworthy.

  6. Very impressive and inspiring journey of this little wonder. It truly should patents can be a role model for kids. A big congratulations to her for such selfless gesture.

  7. It's true, girls are going to save the world! I seriously think every child should be given a 12th pass certificate only after completing a certain period of community service. Should help instill some humanity.

  8. This is so amazing that , this little angle is doing such an amazing work!!

  9. Wow at the young age of 13 Rylee doing many incredible things to serving community. will share this story with my girls, I am sure they will feel inspire.

  10. O my Goodness!! This took my heart away!! She is definitely a role model for her peers and for the generations to come.

  11. My goodness, such a huge series of achievements at this young age is purely inspiring! Rylee is real role model for all age group.


  12. Wow, such a wonderful girl! She is doing adorable things at the age of 14! An inspiring gem indeed:)

  13. Rylee is doing remarkable job for her age. Kudos to her efforts

  14. This girl probably hasn't lost all her milk teeth yet and look at her long list of achievements!

  15. Wow, Rylee Brooke Kamahele is a commendable teenager. Kudos to the catalyst club.


  16. We could all learn a precious lesson from her, that there is no right age and right time to start, just the right intention! Blown away by her achievements!

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