This spring, Missourian reporters took an in-depth look at kids and the people in the community who are making a difference in their lives.
Despite being named one of the best communities for young people in the U.S., stress, access to activities, relationships with responsible adults and transportation are among the daily obstacles that stand in the way of young Columbia residents.
After making and selling Wacky Bandz bracelets to raise money for a mission trip, Kiona Hughes kept up her work. With the help of Granny's House, she pitched the idea to sell the bracelets to MU sororities with part of the proceeds going to their philanthropies like True North.
Through mentorship, local organizations look to make the community a better place by giving children positive role models and relationships.
John Reid and Gina Overshiner teach Douglass High School students how to ride and repair bikes, and they help them build responsibility by participating in service projects throughout the community.
Readers told us who deserves recognition for their work with kids in Columbia. Whom would you nominate?
Missourian readers told us what they think kids in Columbia need.
Erin Carrillo organizes community events, mentors youth and volunteers to help with Columbia's teens.
A reading program, which began in April 2010 at Nora Stewart Early Learning Center, continues to prepare kids for the future.
Hickman High School junior Michael York works with local daycare children through his not-for-profit recycling effort, Coordinated Recycling.
Lactation consultants in Columbia are committedto helping moms have successful breastfeeding experience, which brings health benefits and special bonds to babies and moms.
Maxine Romm, a volunteer for the Foster Grandparent Program, spends four mornings a week with preschoolers at the Worley Street Head Start Center.
About 250 tutors in the MU program teach children one-on-one at various locations in 30-minute sessions.
Children learn math skills and the value of money by earning "Fun City Money" from various learning stations at this extracurricular program.
Heart of Missouri Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteers share how the organization has changed the lives of local children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
A program for fifth-graders at Parkade Elementary School connects them to business professionals in the community who act as mentors.
"Called to Academic & Leadership Excellence and Building character and confidence," a science club co-founded by an MU School of Medicine professor, gives middle and high school students a head start in preparing for college.
A variety of services and information are available to families and teens in Columbia.