Our nation has so much access to information and technology and resources, all we could ever want is right at our fingertips. The problem is, we do not always take advantage of it the way we should. Also, far to often a good idea is presented or created, but it is never seen through, the idea is like our attention span, short lived and bouncing from one thing to another. When one is able to overcome what now seems like social norms, incredible things can happen. At 16 years old, Kevin Barber listened to TED talk and like so many, immediately became inspired. It was a talk about a program in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that employed the homeless to help clean up the streets. "It just looked really simple, and the statistics were staggering," Kevin thought. That thought developed into an idea, and then Kevin followed through.
With the help of his Mother, Kevin developed his idea into a program that they felt would work, and then reached out to the city government to start a trial run for this homeless program. It’s called “Wheels of Change”. Participants are picked up from the local homeless shelters in a van and then hit the streets, cleaning up San Diego one piece of trash at a time. San Diego has the fourth largest homeless population in America, and with the incredibly positive response the program has received from the community, the waiting list to be able to participate grows every day. Bob McElroy who works with the homeless through the non-profit Alpha Project says the impact the program has had on them is clear by just looking at the faces of the individuals associated. “It is so medicinal for our folks who have always been marginalized and irrelevant.”
Kevin is already looking to expand the program, adding more vans, to help as many homeless as they can. Just because an idea seems too good to be true, doesn’t mean it can’t become a reality. All it takes is the right person acting as the driving force, And Kevin Barber is that right person.