tv Champions for Change CNN June 24, 2018 12:00am-1:01am PDT
the following is a cnn special presentation. >> some of the most important people never make the headlines. but they make a difference dramatically improving the lives of countless others. maybe you know someone like that. my colleagues and i were asked to seek out the changemakers, the people working on causes close to our hearts and tell their stories. tonight, you'll meet them. this is champions for change. ♪ ♪ i am your champion
good evening. i'm dr. sanjay gupta. over the next hour we're going to introduce you to some amazing people who are passionate about making the world a better place. 12 cnn anchors setout to meet them, but also to do more than that. we got involved with the organizations we championed and the people they served. we tell you how they were changed and how all of us changed as well. later on, i'll introduce you to my champion for change. a woman tackling an issue i care deeply about. but first let's start with my colleague, bill weir. most people walk right by the men and women living on the street, but not the folks from a group called urban pathways. >> in the richest city in the world, a place with so much to see, it's a sight that makes so many look away. >> hello.
>> but they lean in. >> hello. are you okay? >> rain or shine or constant rejection, they refuse to forget the forgotten. because these angels in orange know that with enough relentless compassion, they can turn a life like this -- >> look how great my closet is. i got shelves. for my shoes. i put my sneakers up there. >> into this. >> look how big my bathroom is. >> this is robert. >> i got a shower. and i got a hand shower. >> he's kind of excited about his little studio apartment because for a decade, he lived here. >> this is your old home. >> yeah. where i had my aneurysm. >> for years, he sneered at those angels in orange until a near death experience urged him to trust for a change.
>> my real story is about these people. about urban pathways. they saved my life. they saved my life. >> i think about that story a lot walking around my city. and i wonder if we repeated it enough times in enough cities, could america rid itself of homelessness? and you think about it this way. you see a sick and lost person on the street every day, day after day. you feel sorry. then maybe give them a couple bucks or buy them a sandwich. years of data shows us that good intention feeds bad habits. and a vicious expensive cycle of emergency rooms and shelters and drunk tanks. what that person really needs is a home. so instead of the money maybe you give them a card. to a place like urban pathways, charities that believe in-housing first. >> it's not as complicated as it appears. if you can provide people with stable housing and with support,
they in conjunction with you, will do the work. to find dignity and to basically reach their full potential. >> which is different from the old model, right? >> totally different. >> with the old model, a person had to get clean and sober first. they had to get housing ready. but years in scary shelters and shadows can make this near impossible. >> and my giant sized microwave that i love so much. oh, yeah. >> they do so much better with a place of their own. this is long way from a park bench. >> oh, yeah, and the subway. >> and the best part is to see them come through at the end. ten years down the line, you see them, you won't even recognize them. >> in over 20 years of outreach, martha has seen so many transformations, including charles, her partner.
>> you were on the street? how old? >> 18. >> really? and what happened? how did you get there? how did you get out? >> gangs, so i left. i stayed in shelter. got my first apartment and i'm like 33. >> congratulations. while they're out here building trust, their colleagues are building homes. with a creative mix of public and private financing. >> on behalf of your friends at urban pathways, welcome home. >> thank you, sir. can't wait to go check it out. >> after losing his mother to cancer and his home to a scamming landlord -- >> it's beautiful. >> -- this robert's bipolar disorder could have led to a life on the street, but thanks to donors like extell developments and a small government subsidy, his new apartment cost about the same as keeping him live with shelters and emergency rooms. >> ask any new yorker would you rather spend $22,000 a year and have a person sleep ong the
sock or spend $23,000 a year and have them living in an apartment like this? so what kind of future do you imagine now that you're in a place like this? >> the goal is to start working. i'm going to get my social work degree. >> okay. >> give a little back. >> absolutely. give a little back. >> that is why angels of urban pathways are my role models. i want you to hang on to this card. champions for change out there proving what can happen with a little old-fashioned compassion and a new idea. you trust me? you trust me? you got him. he trusts you, bill. >> he trusts me. he's a tough nut to crack though. i have to keep going back to that guy. >> i think even's dealt with this at some point. you say in your essay, it's this
awkward look away, the panhandle sights that people don't know. do you behave differently? >> i do. and it took a while. my first subway ride in new york, i ended up wrestling with a obvious deranged homeless person. it's an odd introduction in new york city and it scared me for a long time and i thought place was unhinged. you live here, you start to see the same people every day and the fear sort of melting away. you wonder what's the story that put this place here. >> it's interesting because you think some sort of addiction, some sort of mental health issue. just no housing, no money. >> right. >> what comes first? how do you decide? >> i think in a place in new york and other big cities the cost of living is so expensive. people are living check to check. and maybe if there's an addiction problem, it gets in the way of that. some strange family members and before you know it you're living in your car and the car gets repossessed and the shelter system is very scary. for the people out there year after year after year it's actually a very tiny percentage of the overall homeless
population. social workers, policy makers think if we can tackle those guys maybe we can ultimately solve homelessness. >> thank you. up next, anderson cooper is going to return to the scene of a particularly tragic but memorable story to see how one champion uses music and play to help orphans thrive.
one of the stories that hit me hardest in my now 17 years of reporting was the earthquake in haiti back in 2010. my chest still tightens just thinking about it. the destruction and des appreciation also made an impact on my friend, anderson cooper. so he went back to haiti to meet up with his champions for change, a woman who's restoring hope among the country's orphans. >> there's some 75,000 children living in orphanages in haiti. around the world more than 44 million. the vast majority of these kids will never be adopted. so how can we improve their lives? that's a question dr. erin
johnson has dedicated her life answering. she works with an organization that develops ways to help these kids learn and love and laugh. wwo funds local schools and orphanages to help promote play as a tool of learning. >> it's about using music as way to learn and be playful. >> and they teach teachers to be active participants in the class. that's the principal on the drums. these are kids who live in the area? >> yeah, absolutely. >> wow. so little. music and play isn't just about having fun. it's actually about helping kids grow. why have a toy library? >> it's the ideas that toys and
play actually enhances learning. a very simple idea. it's been studied over the last probably hundred years. play has an impact on the brain of children. >> it changes the physiology of the brain. ♪ at the wwo programs in haiti it's not just orphans, all disadvantaged kids are welcomed. when was the last time you played this? this is 3-year-old jevinska. her father abandoned her and her mother is now a volunteer. she's not in preschool. this toy library is where she learns. when we first meet her, she's quiet. want to put that on top? put that in there? wow. but after using the blocks to play, she becomes animated and engaged. oh, no.
>> i think you have a little attachment going on. >> she does. i like your hair. >> yes, see. this is what you have going on right now. you were successful in communicating with her and getting her attention, and then she got close to you. >> hello. i've heard you say that if a child has at least one adult to love them, they can be healthy. >> yes, absolutely. healthy emotionally and physically because the adult serves as their secure attachment figure that provides them with good nourishment and education and the support they need when they face challenges. >> she first got involved in haiti after the earthquake. we were here eight years ago in a hospital when a 5-year-old boy was rushed in. he'd been trapped underneath the rubble of his home for more than
seven days. what's he saying? >> i want to drink some juice. want to drink some juice. >> amazingly, he survived, but ten members of his family, including his parents, did not. in the years since the doctor has stepped in to help care for him and his two brothers. i'm anderson. she brought us to meet him now. he's 13 and lives with his brothers and extended family in port-au-prince. initially after the earthquake he was kind of quiet. >> he was almost like in a state of stiffness and paralysis. emotionally and physically. >> what are you talking about, for months? >> for years. >> thanks to wwo he's now thriving and one day wants to become a doctor or soccer player. ♪ in haiti, soccer is a big part
of wwo's learning program. monoly joined us at the field as well. watching him laugh and play like any other 13-year-old boy is remarkable considering what he's been through. he's an example of the good work that dr. jane and wwo are doing on the ground in haiti and elsewhere around the world. and with more funding, there's no telling what they can do to help this generation of kids grow up to be happy and healthy. ♪ >> as we tackle the big problems in places like haiti, we shouldn't forget the power of play too much the bring strength to the most vulnerable. and speaking of bringing strength, kate bolduan sat down
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cnn newsroom anchor brooke baldwin has been a total space geek like me since she was a little kid. lucky brooke got to go back to louisiana to meet a nasa engineer who spends her summers inspiring the next generation of women astronauts. >> when i see these kids, especially these young girls on the training center floor i'm so excited for them. because i know their possibilities have jt exploded and they're going to do great things. >> high performing kids rocketing to a bright future. but, you know, some smart kids never get a fair shot to shine especially those in low income areas. "cnn tonight" don lemon met a champion for change who works with a group called oliver scholars. their goal, find those high potential kids and give them a once in a lifetime boost.
>> good morning. hi. you're here to be interviewed? >> how's it going. hello. good morning. good morning. >> i'm feeling a bit nervous, but i'm actually kind of excited to go through the process. will i do good? will i do bad, i don't know. >> we are looking at selecting 100 students. >> i'm not sure i would have gotten in if i i hadn't applied at this point. >> the most important thing today is to have fun. we're asking questions of you but you should ask questions of us. >> anyone who gives help to those who might not have it is amazing. like ariana who's going to graduate from auburn college. >> wow, 20 years since my
introduction and this is where i am. i'm so excited. i went through too vigorous summers with the program. >> i had a similar experience with my mom. she said this program is the best shot we've got to a great future. >> they also teach you to be very well-rounded, so it's not just like about your academics. >> i give credit to auburn for giving me the opportunity back i was 12 years old to transform my life and connect with the globe. >> manny n ultimate give backer. he was so grateful he felt obligated in a good way to go back and share and make those experiences happen for other people. a 2004 graduate. >> i lived and breathe oliver. i've worked with the program for
the last eight years. >> i think oliver's three 10 wants of leadership, scholarship and service. >> it's part of womens motivation comes from, in terms of leadership is what i think is going to help build my future. >> i think there's so many different kinds of leadership. i play quarterback and that's the leader of the team. having gone to oliver and having experienced leadership kind of does prepare you in the classroom, on the field, just anywhere you go. >> i had to dig in the the tunnel, and i had to go into the tunnel. kevin, what was that? >> you were walking down the stairs and you fell, and this is the dog. >> a dog is this. that's a dog. >> since you've been an oliver scholar, do you feel different? do you think you've changed? >> i've definitely changed. oliver has made me proud of who i am. as a person of color you sometimes doubt yourself every
now and then. but having gone to oliver it makes you solidify yourself. >> i was eating and then i got sick. >> do you speak chinese? are you fluent? >> i'm four years into it, so -- >> give me a little. >> nihao -- >> completed a total of 452 hours of community service in the u.s. and abroad. >> so haiti is one of my all-time favorite students. she is a leader. i have so many great stories of her, her decision to play on the football team at riverdale. she is just incredibly fierce and has made her mark here. >> oliver forces you to look into the future. >> an oliver experience is truly a rare gem that every child deserves and would benefit from
immensely. >> you have an idea this is sort of what this is what i want to do with my future and these are the things i need to do to get help with it. >> did you pick your college yet? >> yeah. >> what is it? >> i'm going to yale. >> she's going to yale. >> oliver opens those doors, provides the mentorship and knowing the world is tough. >> anything can happen. literally anything can happen. i'm at this amazing juncture right now where this is the first time i don't know what's coming next. >> and 99% of those oliver scholars go onto college. about a third of them enroll in ivy league schools. up next, fixing a smile. we head to columbia where one surgeon is repairing hundreds of cleft pallets. ab. oh really? thank you clients? well jd power did just rank them highest in investor satisfaction with full service brokerage firms...again.
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hola. i'm allison. a smile actually really, really is important. can i hold you? hi. i'm going to see you again at the medical center tomorrow. >> my name is maliso. medical director. i'm also a plastic surgeon volunteer. when you have a cleft palate, you cannot speak well. you cannot eat well. all the food is going through the nose. it's really a nightmare. we are right there and we fix it and that's why we exist. >> how you doing? how you feeling today? need some help? i got involved with operation smile probably eight years ago and i learned about it through
my friend, lisa lori. she had three sons born with facial abnormalities. even before i knew that cnn was going to do champions of change, i was going to be taking my twin daughters on this medical mission to colombia because i wanted them to see how life changing this surgery is. ♪ we're heading about two hours outside of bogota now. obviously you can see it's much more rural where we're going. we're going to meet juan. he's 8 years old. several years ago he already had the surgery. but he still needs services. he needs speech therapy and things like that. >> holea. >> hey, guys. >> my life has changed a lot because of the foundation. when we go, i feel better. and i'm really thankful because
it's so great. i love all the doctors that help me. i can speak now. >> the truth is if we hadn't gone to a foundation like this i can't even imagine how his life would be because we wouldn't have the means or the money for the surgeries. >> once upon a time there were three little brothers, hermanos. on a personal note, my daughters were born prumaturity. so i can relate to having a baby that suddenly needs more medical care than you ever expected. why wasn't the status quo in columbia good enough? >> the reality is that in the past the children were hidden and no one knew the seriousness of this situation. since we came in, they've come to know us and have lost that shame. >> and you're a volunteer?
>> yes, of course. >> meaning the volunteers don't get paid. >> we don't get paid. but we get paid, more than money. and that's more important. >> your life is going to be different in one hour from now. we're ready. watching a little 7 month old baby have his face operated on and seeing the tubes in him and the, you know, scalpels, it was a lot. >> it's okay, sweetie. >> and then watching samuel come out of anesthesia and open his eyes and become alert and carrying him to his mom, it was really intense. oh, my gosh, what an angel.
look at this little angelic face. you did it. great job, doc. you want to go see mommy? let's go see mommy. he did so well. he did perfectly. >> it's just really amazing to see how in the space of one hour these little children's lives can be changed and their families and their mothers and everything can be so happy. it's just really, really inspiring. >> yummy. >> obviously our champion for change, he's done this for 20 years and he has no plans to stop because he doesn't want one child left behind with a cleft palate. >> i don't feel i'm the champion of anything. i feel like all these kids change my life, not the opposite. >> it's the very best of
medicine. a relatively simple operation that completely transforms a child's life. it was so great, i think, that allison could take her daughters on that journey as well. wolf blitzer is one of our network's most loved anchors. last summer his mother passed away after struggling for years with dimension. so wolf's champ krn for change is dr. crystal. he has this new therapy that uses viruses to fight alzheimer's. it has yet to go through human trials. it may not work, but if it does it could help treat one of our most feared diseases. you can watch wolf's report online, cnn.com/champions. or you can also meet eren burnett's champion said for change, a support system for survivors of domestic abuse. still to come, frederica whitfield introduces us to some heroes and some horses. it's used to help veterans cope
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my friend frederica whitfield is as at home on the saddle as she is at the anchor desk. her champion for change uses horses to help our veterans. >> can't get out of your head. getting out of your head is thurputic in itself. it's amazing to watch horses connect with people who have stuff going on. but for veterans in particular, it's a big, powerful animal that seems to understand them. >> how's it made a difference in your life? >> it's pretty much saved my life. going from a very dark place and not having a lot of people to talk to or people i was comfortable talking about all the issues i had. for me it was just wanting to run from everything, which i did for a long time. a lot of suicidal thoughts, and i still battle with them.
i still battle with a lot of anxiety, but there's an outlet for all that now. >> and you can see fred's full report online at cnn.com/champions. monica cabrera also picked a champions for change that focuses on trauma but instead of our vets she focused on pediatric cancer. and for anna, this is deeply personal story. >> i feel sad because i feel sometimes that his childhood was robbed. >> miky, how old are you? >> i am 13. >> so you're a teenager already. >> yeah. >> mikey has spent nearly a quarter of his childhood fighting brain cancer. >> this side won't grow because of radiation. >> i like your mohawk. that looks good. >> when mikey almost finished
his second fight, my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lung and bone cancer. to have that person get sick in front of you and watch them deteariate as your son starts to get better, it was really, really tough. >> nine months after his diagnosis michael, sr. died. >> at that point you feel like you can't breathe, but you still try your best to take care of everyone and keep your little kids going. >> seeing mikey immediately took me back to colorado. it made me think of john, my brother. he was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was just 10 years old, the same kind of cancer as mikey. >> this doctor said that they didn't have a cure for brain cancer at that time, so i was taken aback by that. i was like, oh, it looks kind of
bleak for me. >> i remember feeling as a sibling very helpless. what were you thinking about in this picture? >> i don't know. i was just happy you were here. >> i wanted to be able to do something for him as he was struggling and suffering, and yet there was very little i could do. and i think that's what really led me to candlelighters. >> the day that they found out their child had cancer is the darkest day of their life. candlelight helps bring them into the light. you look so pretty. hi, where's the other one? i need a double hug. >> we need that personal touch they are our best friend, and they are ours, too. we become family. >> candlelighters is a unique organization. it meet the family where they need it most. it may be a simple comfort or it might be a big wish. >> and if we can just make a tiny bit of difference that's
enough. >> what did you see that candlelighters could offer that wasn't there already? >> this still isn't nothing like candlelighters, new york city. we're a family. >> you have a diaper, a poopy diaper. >> these kids come from all over. they sit on my coach, play with my dog, lay on my bed if they're tired. >> do you want to open this one yourself or can i open this one for you? put your head up for one second so we can get the collar working. oh, yeah. what does it feel like to be able to help families in that way? >> feels like a fairy godmother. >> isn't that better? yeah, it had to be proper. when you're a cop, you've got to be copper. >> we're able to make little wishes come true every day. >> we are officially making them police officers at central park
precinct. can you please welcome beckham peterson. >> new york city is so rich, we share with them. and we want all of new york city to feel the good feelings that we feel. >> that's a very good picture. is that you at the knicks game? >> yes. >> for mikey and his siblings it was an unforgettable moment court side at the new york knicks basketball game. for his mom simply an hour of pampering. >> it was such a nice treat to have a glass of champagne and get my hair washed and get it done for me. what barbara did that day, it was so nice to breathe again. >> barbara is a champion for these did with cancer. barbara is champion for their families. >> i love you more than anything in the whole wide world. >> i could spend all of my life just crying, but i'd be under a blanket not helping anyone.
>> so instead you're making something with that. >> i'm turning crappy into happy. >> what a powerful piece. thanks for sharing that. how's your -- i'm an older subbling as well so your connection between you and john always struck me. how's he doing? >> he's doing all right. he's such a resilient person and such a fighter, and he's one of my heroes. he's been impacted long-term because of his cancer and the amount of radiation he's received. he's a survivor and 17 years in remission which is huge. >> you focus on the treatment, the radiation, what's necessary. but all this other stuff this organization does, who would do it if not for organizations like them? >> absolutely. it's about really helping the soul go through this journey. and i think that's what barbara makes this all about, the person and helping to keep their
spirits up. because these children have to be brave, these families have to just endure. it's such an intense situation to go through this as a family and then to have to do it in a place that's not close to home, that's not where your comfort zone is, in a place like new york city, which can be extremely overwhelming for people to visit. people from kentucky, from utah, san diego, other places around the country. so it makes it a bit easier, and she always like to say these kids just need a break from being brave. i just want them to feel like kids. so she gets so much joy and the candlelighters get so much joy in being able to give a child a smile. >> thank you. please give john my best as well. >> thank you. thank you, candlelighters, for what you do. >> and my colleague first settled in the united states, his great uncles found this place to fit in. it was boston's west end house. three generations later that
youth center is still this important place for young immigrants. how has the make-up of, you know, the kids who use this changed? >> now we're supporting people from all over the world. it's a new need but in reality the same need. >> the west end house offers kids and teens a home away from home. succeed in school and create lasting friendships. up next i'll introduce you to my champion for change. it involves a problem we all see and we can all fix.
one of the most distressing issues i report on is hunger. i just don't get it. consider this, in the united states these two problems are happening at the same time. lots of people going hungry and lots of people going to waste. when i first heard the story i'm about to tell you, i didn't believe it. it starts with these adorable children. four out of five kids in this classroom are food insecure, not sure when or if they will get their next meal.
covering hunger, even widespread hunger, famine, have been some of the most emotionally tough stories i have covered in 17 years as a journalist. >> hello and welcome to a very special edition of the front lines of famine. i'm in kenya, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. >> what is happening in the united states is by no means a famine, but one in eight americans, one in six children struggle with hunger. >> what i have found is poverty lives right next door to all of us. it can happen to anybody, and it happens due to some sort of catastrophic event you're not expecting. >> and there's something else. the face of hunger might surprise you. it surprised me. charity knolls, mother of five, her husband back in grad school retraining after the recession. every meal now dependent on the generosity of others. >> there was a time we were 100%
dependent on it, and that was, you know, a difficult time. >> so today the organization, feeding america, is all about feeding charity mills and her family. >> you do this every morn something. >> yes, sir. it's incredible work. i love it. >> colorado springs, paul and i are on a mission to collect food that might otherwise go to waste. >> there is food that will be picked up today that will help feed people tonight. >> yes, sir. >> 40% of food goes to waste in this country. how do you live in a country where 40% of food goes to waste and people are hungry? i think when people recognize the wastage that happens in the fields, on the docks, in stores, in people's homes, they will feel empowered to do something about it.
today paul and i bring back almost 1,000 pounds of food to be inspected and sorted. and a lot of it lasts longer than you think. >> i think that's the biggest surprise, that meat in a can would last that long. >> so five years after the expiration date. >> yeah. >> i did not know that. that surprised me. when you spend time in a place like feeding america and meet some of their 2 million volunteers, you quickly realize everyone here has a story about hunger. like my champion for change, mary lash. >> i know the pain in the stomach, the sadness, you're scared to say anything. you know, my parents worked at a five-star resort in the poconos. my dad was a chef, but yet his kids were hungry because of abuse and neglect. he didn't feed us, but he fed hundreds of other people daily. but not his own kids. >> how much of what you went through at that time is part of
what you're doing now. >> that is what drives me. if i can make a difference in one child's life a day i feel that my work is done. >> this is it. this is feeding america. it feels like you're actually doing something worthwhile. >> so we're going to dig some potatoes. >> okay. >> this is what a potato plant looks like. >> this is it. >> this is it right here. >> i sometimes forget food comes from the ground. >> we've got this basket here full of stuff we harvested this morning. >> that's all pretty good-looking produce. >> it's fantastic. >> the one thing i hope you remember, if we simply stop wasting food we could absolutely feed america. remember those kids? the food we're passing out that will feed them and their
families is food that would have otherwise gone to waste. >> when i get those food bags, i -- they're really heavy. and that heaviness is love. >> it's hard to hear about these kids. you can't believe that a kid would be hungry, first of all, and then they're taking food home for their family. it's a lot of responsibility, i think. and i, you know -- it's like we can do better. it's the reason i wanted to tell the story of feeding america. matt knots is the organization's president. >> i think it's a solvable problem. and we're working the scale to solve that problem, to get food from every supply chain, from farm to fork and get it to the people that need it the most. >> people like charity mills.
the food we picked up earlier has made its way to thepentry and to this home. >> the meal tonight is spaghetti which a typical meal for us. >> have you ever stepped back and thought about how many people you've likely helped feed now? >> i haven't. but i don't feel like it's been enough yet. so however i can help, as long as i can help i will do it. >> i should point out that feeding america was originally called second harvest. because they would go collect all the fruits and vegetables that no one else wanted. it's called gleaming. the sweet potato, for example, never gets sold in the store, but it could feed a lot of people. resolve to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and you too could help feed america. go to cnn.com/champions. that's where you can also hear cnn anchors share their personal thoughts on this journey and the importance of passion,