Luke Peterson, 11, was recently selected as Oklahoma’s new Kid Governor. It’s a coveted position created by Sunbeam Family Services and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy to help give local kids a voice through an active community advocate to raise awareness about issues local children face.
Peterson is Oklahoma’s third Kid Governor and he’s passionate about talking to local kids to help them realize they have a unique ability and even a responsibility to help their peers who are less fortunate.
“Kids need a voice and someone to really talk about the kids and the problems they face,” he said. “We need someone to acknowledge the problems kids face and really do something about it.”
Childhood hunger and education are two problems that rise to the top of Peterson’s list of important local issues. He’s spent a lot of time volunteering at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and he wants to encourage other young people to be more active advocates.
“Any kid has the chance to make a difference, they just have to have the courage to stand up,” he said. “Get your friends involved too and it will be even better.”
Although many local organizations may not have volunteer opportunities for very young children, Peterson said hosting a donation drive is a great way for kids of any age to get involved in helping others and spreading the word about local causes.
Peterson and his 15-year-old brother wanted a way to do more than just volunteer at the food bank, so the two of them organized a video game competition in their neighborhood. The cost to compete was $3 plus a canned food item. They had about 50 competitors show up to have fun and give back at the same time.
Peterson’s Mom, Kari, said she and her oldest son are shy and sometimes have a hard time getting out of their comfort zones to serve the community.
“He teaches us a lot,” she said of Luke. “He has a natural ability to help others and it really encourages us get out of our comfort zones and do what we can for others.”
Jane Meeks, marketing and volunteer manager at Sunbeam Family Services, said that’s exactly what she hopes for the Kid Governor role.
“We use the kid governor as a way to really be the voice for kids, and we love that Luke is excited to be that voice,” she said. “He really has a true passion for helping others and we want to see more kids like that.”
How to host a video game tournament for charity:
- Pick your cause. Peterson is passionate about ending childhood hunger so he decided to support the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. He collected a combination of canned food goods and cash so that both could be donated.
- Select a venue. The Peterson family set up a large television screen in their driveway, which provided the perfect place to play the video games plus acted as an advertisement to passersby about the donation drive.
- Get the word out. Luke distributed some paper invitations to local friends but also created an event on Facebook to let neighbors know about the event.
- Host the event. Have parents and other adults help select and set up the video games and keep the competition fair.
- Award the winners. The winner of Peterson’s video game tournament got to take home a small cash prize out of the $3 per person entry fee, but the rest of the cash and all the canned goods went to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.