Philly Rising: For this 13-year-old, 'Kids Can' make a difference

Antionette Lee
October 10, 2019 - 5:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Aniyah Ayres brings life to the saying "small, but mighty." 

The 13-year-old recently installed a pantry in a Philadelphia-area school to make sure kids don't go hungry outside of provided meals at school. 

"You don't realize how many kids (are) coming to school and eating breakfast but going home and like not having anything to eat," Ayres said. "Going to sleep hungry, then waking up hungry, then having to wait until school to eat."

The "Kids Can Kids Care Room" offers nonperishable food items like cereal, oatmeal, Jell-O, mac and cheese and more. It's also stocked with school supplies and toiletries, and students can take what they need with no questions asked. 

So proud of my efforts on my newest venture! Aniyah’s Mission #KidsCan #KidsCare Room! We have installed a “no questions” asked room where kids can come and get what they need. From school supplies, toiletries and non perishable food items. We are so grateful to Mr. Curtis Segers and Ms. Latoya Harvin for allowing us to be apart of the Mastery Charter, Mann Campus. We are thankful for the hospitality and look forward to making a impact! #KidsCan #KidsCare #LeadingByExample #NoQuestionsAsked #GetWhatYouNeed

A post shared by Aniyah's Mission (@aniyahsmission) on

"They can quickly come and get what they need and not have to worry about everybody looking at them and seeing what they have to get for themselves. Something private and personal that they can keep for themselves, like their own little secret," Ayres said. 

She hopes the initiative will be expanded to several other schools. 

"This is our first school. We're trying to get to as many schools as possible," she said. 

Ayres, who lost her father at age two, says this is all a part of carrying on his legacy.

When she's not in school, she stays busy with her nonprofit Aniyah's Mission.

The nonprofit's motto is "kids can." 

"Age is nothing but a number. I can do this. You can start whenever you're ready, whenever you feel that you can do it," she said. 

Each back-to-school season, they give away scholarships to students for uniforms, haircuts and supplies, and events like her Day of Peace and the Peace, Love and Water Ice Tour have become staples in the community. 

"I basically went to every part of Philadelphia and handed out free water ice and mini inspiration bags just to put a smile on people's faces. To promote positivity in the community and take away at least a little bit of the negativity." 

Aniyah says although she's 13 and accomplished so much, she's not done yet. She's planning to release a book this fall, called "The Life Without," in which she shares her encounter with grief in an effort to teach other young people how to manage the feelings of losing a loved one.

"I just want people to know that, no matter what, no matter what the circumstances are, you can do anything," she added. 

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