Malcolm Asher, 16, of Portland, Ore., a junior at Cleveland High School, founded a nonprofit organization that is helping hospitalized youth on four continents make and share art, to alleviate the fear and anxiety that kids often experience in the hospital. While volunteering at a children’s hospital in Portland, Malcolm said that he “discovered how isolating and naturally scary it was” for the young patients. He also saw a 7-year-old girl draw a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and share it with other patients. “I could plainly see what a lift this provided to kids who were feeling anxious and scared,” said Malcolm. “It was incredible to see the impact it had on both sides.”
As a result, Malcolm decided he wanted to volunteer for an organization that promoted the sharing of art among hospital patients, but couldn’t find one. So, he launched his own and called it “ArtPass.” He sought advice from other teenagers who had started nonprofits, met with healthcare providers and child life specialists, created a website, recruited a team of Portland teens to help, and sought financial support. Once up and running, Malcolm’s organization began providing art kits to hospitalized children who requested them, and then matching those kids with other patients in the same hospital to exchange artwork. ArtPass is now operating in 18 locations in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Ghana. Malcolm also is working on a campaign to spread awareness of the conditions faced by hospitalized youth in developing countries.