Three Kids Under 16 Who Are Changing the World
Evan Ducker, 15
Kingston, New York
Evan was born with a birthmark known as a port-wine stain on his face. As a little boy he asked his mother, Donna, why none of the characters in the books she read to him had birthmarks. She didn't have an answer. After searching the local library, Donna found a few birthmarked characters, but each was depicted as an outcast. So she and Evan decided to write their own story, Buddy Booby's Birthmark, about a booby bird with a beak birthmark. "The book's message is that you should look past people's differences and see who they really are," Evan says. "Otherwise you may never get to know what a great person they are."
After years of trying to find the right publisher, the Duckers self-published the book when Evan was 12. Their hard work paid off: The response from families of kids with birthmarks was great and they donated part of the proceeds to the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation. Evan and his mom even traveled to Ireland, where Evan spoke to more than 100 families. Now he reads his book to children at area schools and talks with them about tolerance and sensitivity.
"A lot of kids with birthmarks have self-esteem issues because they get picked on," Evan says. "When I read, at first some kids aren't sure what to make of me. But by the end I think they really get the message."
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, March 2010.