Five ideas that have helped children thrive

Story highlights

  • Nominations are open for 2016 CNN Heroes
  • People are helping children by using their own unique talents
  • One used babysitting money to start a school; another helps kids via music; a third uses biking to connect

(CNN)While some people simply shake their heads about problems that threaten children, others take action.

Meet a man who works wonders with kids through music. Meet a woman who supports youth via the fun of biking. A third person is helping kids by building a school and children's home.
    Here are their stories:

    A $5,000 nest egg started a school

    CNN Hero Maggie Doyne
    CNN Hero Maggie Doyne

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    CNN Hero Maggie Doyne 01:50
    A decade ago, New Jersey native Maggie Doyne was traveling in Nepal.
    A civil war had just ended in the country, and Doyne had witnessed its effects firsthand. She had met women and children who were suffering, struggling to survive. Doyne wanted to help.
    She called her parents and asked them to wire her $5,000 she had earned babysitting. In 2006, Doyne purchased land in Surkhet, a district in western Nepal. She worked for two years with the local community to build the Kopila Valley Children's Home.
    Today, Kopila -- which means "flower bud" in Nepali -- is home to about 50 children, from infants to teenagers.
    Doyne started the BlinkNow Foundation to support and grow her efforts. In 2010, the group opened its Kopila Valley School, which today educates more than 350 students. CNN named Doyne a Top 10 Hero and in November, Doyne was named CNN Hero of the Year.

    A real school of rock

    CNN Hero Chad Bernstein
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    CNN Hero Chad Bernstein 01:50
    Many schools face high dropout rates, after-school programs are being eliminated and students are failing. Those at-risk children are the ones Chad Bernstein is trying to help through his nonprofit, Guitars Over Guns.
    "Music is the most important tool we have in reaching these kids," said Bernstein, 30, a professional musician.
    Recognized earlier this year as a CNN Hero, Bernstein operates his nonprofit in two of Miami's poorest communities, North Miami and Allapattah.
    Chad Bernstein's nonprofit has helped students increase academic performance and attendance.
    It pairs middle school students with professional musicians, providing free instrument instruction and mentoring.
    Since 2008, Bernstein's organization has worked with more than 225 students in Miami-Dade County.
    He says his group has seen a more than 90% increase in academic performance and school attendance of students in the program.

    He gives young people lifelong skills

    CNN Hero Fred Heinrich
    CNN Hero Fred Heinrich

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    CNN Hero Fred Heinrich 01:49
    Longtime film editor Fred Heinrich's nonprofit, Inner-City Filmmakers, provides free hands-on job training and placement for low-income minority youth, giving them increased access to the film and television industry.
    A recent report published by UCLA's Center for African-American Studies highlights the lack of minority employment in Hollywood -- a void Heinrich has been working for years to change.
    "Screenwriting, directing, camera, editing, producing, casting -- they learn all these skills," said Heinrich, who was recognized earlier this year as a CNN Hero. "I couldn't have taught them how to be a baker or a plumber or anything like that. ... What I do know about is filmmaking. So I scoured the city looking for promising youth."
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    Since 1993, Inner-City Filmmakers has helped more than 600 young people in Los Angeles County. Long before the uprisings on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore, the 1992 Los Angeles riots in the wake of the first verdict in the Rodney King case had an undeniable effect on the city's urban youth.
    "Young people were the primary focus of the riots," recalls Heinrich, who witnessed the unrest from his Los Angeles home. "I believe they were frustrated because they felt they were being underserved. When I saw all of this violence, I said to my wife, 'There's got to be something we can do.'"

    Bicycling can help children

    CNN Hero Marilyn Price
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    CNN Hero Marilyn Price 01:47
    At 74, Marilyn Price still remembers the first time she rode a bike.
    "My father let go of my seat, and there I was on my own," she said.
    Years later, Price realized the power of biking to change lives.
    During a 1982 mountain biking trip in northern California, Price reached a point on the trail where she could see all of San Francisco. Looking out at the city, she thought of the children she met while volunteering at a soup kitchen there. And it hit her: She wanted to give them the same experience.
    CNN Hero Marilyn Price shares her love of biking with children.
    Price, who was recognized earlier this year as a CNN Hero, has since helped more than 25,000 at-risk children from the San Francisco Bay Area get off urban streets and into nature through her nonprofit, Trips for Kids.

    'Every child needs to ... create'

    New York City artist Adarsh Alphons was disheartened to learn that nearly 30% of public schools lack even one full-time arts teacher. And across the country, when it comes to school budget cuts, arts programs are often among the first to go.
    "Every child needs to have space for them to create," said Alphons, who was recognized earlier this year as a CNN Hero.
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    "I decided we need to be the ones to put paintbrushes in the hands of kids."
    Since 2011, his nonprofit, ProjectArt, has provided free arts classes for New York City public school children. The group holds its classes in libraries, and at the end of each semester, the children exhibit their art in galleries.
    Since 2011, ProjectArt has expanded from one branch in Harlem to a network of 11 libraries throughout the city. The group has reached roughly 1,000 children.