Local teen recognized for philanthropy in Washington, D.C.

Nathaniel Crossley makes a global impression 

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Contributor

Nathaniel Crossley

Nathaniel Crossley (center) with another award recipient Jeffery May of Merck&Co. (left) and his friend Scott Higgins.

It’s unlikely that Nathaniel Crossley, a local high school student and Connect Weekly’s youth writer, realized that his fundraising efforts to build wells in Africa would one day take him to Washington, D.C. to accept an award recognizing him as a young philanthropist, but that is exactly what happened on December 5.

Crossley made the trip from Fort McMurray to Washington for the Africare’s Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner Gala (one of the United States’ largest annual fundraising events for Africa) held at the Marriot Wardman Park in Washington, D.C.

He was invited as a guest and honoured with the Youth Philanthropist Award by Africare for the work he has undertaken to address the issue of safe water availability in Tanzania.

“When I was on stage accepting the award… it was both amazing and scary. To see how many people care about the issues that Africare deals with on a daily basis. And to be recognized, and thanked, and be told how inspiring a kid my age was doing this, by many Ambassadors and Dignitaries of African countries, was overwhelming.”

During the ceremony, Crossley was included in a blessing by Reverend Canon Nan Peete (Episcopal Diocese of Washington) and mentioned in a speech by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Department of State Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs. Thomas-Greenfield received the Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award.

“Before I came on stage, they played the trailer from my soon-to-be released in 2016 documentary: The Kilimanjaro Project,” said Crossley. “The feeling from the entire visit was joy, excitement and honour to be a part of an incredible list of honourees. Jeff May (Vice President of Global Public Policy) sat at our table and was also an award recipient at the gala. He spoke after me and said I was a tough act to follow.”

Working with the African Well Fund, Crossley created a variety of local and global fundraising events designed to bring awareness to the issue – one of his projects being LEGO4AFRICA, which he launched when he was 11 years old. Crossley and his father were able to travel to Tanzania in 2013 to visit the schools in the Dodoma region that were the beneficiaries of his fundraising efforts, and the trip even proved to be a catalyst for a new project.

Crossley said his trip to Tanzania was a remarkable experience.

“My trip was amazing and seeing the impact of what I helped to achieve was incredible. Because of my trip, I decided to do Sports4Kids, which was held just last week on November 24.”

Sports4Kids was launched at Crossley’s high school, Father Patrick Mercredi, and brought various sporting goods and jerseys to school girls in Dodoma, Tanzania.

“I hope to extend my Sports4Kids project and get more equipment donated to them by some big name companies or have them purchased for them from the local retailers in Tanzania,” he said.

In the future, Crossley hopes to return to Tanzania in two years to revisit the schools in Dodoma, as well as, climb Mount Kilimanjaro for the second time.

Blake Crossley, Nathaniel’s father (and one of the individuals Nathaniel credits as his inspiration for his philanthropic work), has some thoughts on encouraging the development of the concepts of philanthropy and social justice as a parent.

“Every child can do what Nathaniel is doing and make a change in the world. In fact, it doesn’t need to be a big idea, as just a subtle gesture can cause what Nathaniel has said many times is ‘a ripple effect’. One thing we do to encourage is that whatever project they are involved in, you see it through,” said Blake Crossley.

“I think it is a learning process. First of all, the child has to want to do it. We aren’t the parents who force anything onto our kids, whether it be volunteer work or extracurricular activities,” he said. “Every child can do what Nathaniel is doing and make a change in the world. In fact, it doesn’t need to be a big idea, as just a subtle gesture can cause what Nathaniel has said many times is ‘a ripple effect’. One thing we do to encourage is that whatever project they are involved in, you see it through. That’s one thing that impresses me the most with Nathaniel, as well as. his determination and finding a way to get it done.”

Blake continues: “As for impact, he had the Ambassador to Tanzania approach him and say: “Thank you for everything you are doing for my country”. It was pretty awesome to see and hear.”

Nathaniel has some advice for youth interested in changing the world, too. He says: “Pick an issue that interests you and try to come up with some way to solve or help with solving that problem.”

As an internationally-recognized young philanthropist, Crossley appears to be well on his way to helping solve global problems.

– Connect Weekly –